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Ticks are parasites that belong to Class Arachnida and feed on the blood of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles. They are found in various sizes. They have eight legs and can range in colour from brown to reddish-brown and black. Ticks thrive in warm and moist areas of the body.
Tick bites are usually harmless, but some ticks carry diseases which are passed on to humans when they bite, causing an array of symptoms.
Tick-borne diseases are prevalent in India and the United States.
List Of Tick-borne Diseases
1. Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD)
Kyasanur forest disease is a re-emerging zoonotic tick-borne arboviral disease affecting men and monkeys caused by the H. spinigera and H. turturis ticks. The disease was discovered in 1957 from Kyasanur forest area, in the Shimoga district of Karnataka  .
2. Lyme disease
The most common tick-borne disease is Lyme disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed 22,500 and 7,500 expected cases of Lyme disease in 2010 worldwide. Lyme disease is transmitted to humans through the bite of black-legged deer ticks. This disease has a damaging effect on the brain, nervous system, heart, muscles and joints  .
3. Rocky Mountain spotted fever
This disease is a bacterial infection spread by ticks and can cause chronic damage to internal organs, such as the heart and kidneys. The symptoms of the Rocky Mountain spotted fever are severe headache and high fever. The disease is most commonly found in the Southeastern part of the United States  .
4. Colorado tick fever
It is a viral infection spread through a bite from an infected wood tick. The Colorado tick fever symptoms include fever, headache, and chills. The disease is most prevalent in the state of Colorado, with the highest number of cases between February and October and 90% of cases reported between April and July  .
It is a rare infectious disease that mainly affects mammals, however, it can spread to humans through an infected tick and from direct exposure to an infected animal. The symptoms of tularemia vary depending on where the bacteria has entered your body.
Lone star tick causes ehrlichiosis, a bacterial illness that causes flu-like symptoms that include diarrhoea, aches and fever  . Lone star ticks are common in the Southeastern and South Central United States.
Babesiosis is a parasitic infection usually transmitted through a tick bite. The symptoms include chills, muscle aches, fatigue, high fever, abdominal pain, etc. According to the CDC, babesiosis occur in New York, England, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and New Jersey.
8. Relapsing fever
Relapsing fever is an infection spread by a certain kind of tick. The symptoms include headache, chills, vomiting, coughing, neck or eye pain and diarrhoea. Most cases of relapsing fever occur in the Western part of the United States  .
9. Human granulocytic anaplasmosis
Human granulocytic anaplasmosis is a tick-borne rickettsial infection transmitted to humans by ticks of the Ixodes ricinus species complex. The symptoms include vomiting, nausea, severe headache, and fever.
10. Tick paralysis
Tick paralysis is caused by the bite of ticks, causing a tingling and numbness sensation all over the body. Rocky Mountain wood tick, American dog tick, and dermacentor ticks cause tick paralysis. If left untreated, the disease can affect the lungs  .
11. Tick-borne encephalitis
It is transmitted by the bite of infected ticks, found in woodland habitats. Tick-borne encephalitis affects the central nervous system and causes symptoms like headache, fatigue, fever, and nausea  .
12. Powassan encephalitis
Powassan encephalitis is a viral infectious disease caused by a tick bite. It is a rare disease that causes inflammation in the brain and in the membranes around the brain and spinal cord  .
13. Boutonneuse fever
It is caused by Rickettsia conorii and is transmitted by the dog tick Rhipicephalus sanguineus. Boutonneuse fever is a rare disease and mostly occurs in the Mediterranean countries. Boutonneuse fever is also known as Indian Tick Typhus (ITT).
14. Baggio-Yoshinari syndrome
Baggio-Yoshinari syndrome is a disease transmitted by the Amblyomma cajennense tick  . The clinical features of the Baggio-Yoshinari syndrome resembles that of Lyme disease.
15. Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever
It is a viral haemorrhagic fever transmitted to humans either by tick bites or through contact with viraemic animal tissues. Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is prevalent in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Balkans.
16. Ehrlichiosis ewingii infection
The Ehrlichiosis ewingii infection is spread to humans by the lone star tick called Amblyomma americanum. This tick is also known to transmit Ehrlichia chaffeensis, the bacteria that cause human monocytic ehrlichiosis  .
17. Southern tick-associated rash illness
It is caused by the lone star tick bite and the rash is usually visible within 7 days of the tick bite and expands to a diameter of 8 cm or more. The symptoms that accompany include fever, headache, fatigue and muscle pain.
FAQs About Tick-borne Illnesses
Q. Where are ticks found?
A. The tick responsible for Lyme disease, Powassan encephalitis, babesiosis, and anaplasmosis are found in Oklahoma, Kansas, Dakotas, Nebraska, Texas, and the Eastern US.
Q. Are tick-borne diseases prevalent in India?
A. The Indian Tick Typhus disease also known as Boutonneuse fever in reported in the Indian states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan .
Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD) has been reported in the states of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, and Kerala.
Q. Can tick-borne diseases be treated?
A. Antibiotics can treat the disease if it is diagnosed early.
Q. How long does a tick take to transmit infection?
A. It takes 2 to 96 hours to transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever; for ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis disease, it takes 24 to 50 hours.
Q. Are tick-borne diseases fatal?
A. According to the CDC, the death rate for anaplasmosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever is less than 1%.
How To Prevent Tick Bites
- Clean tall grass and trim your bushes around the house.
- Mow your lawn frequently.
- Apply insect repellent cream on the exposed skin whenever you are going out.
- Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for at least 10 minutes to kill the ticks if they have attached to your clothing.
- Check your pet's skin for ticks and apply shampoo and medications to prevent ticks from latching on to their skin.
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