Ticks are everywhere in Central New Hampshire. With all the news your hear about ticks and their diseases, you would think there would be numerous types of tick but the truth is that two types are most common in our area, the black-legged or deer tick and the American dog tick. It is important to be able to identify these ticks and the diseases they potentially carry.
Both the deer tick and the American dog tick go through the same life stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. During the different stages, ticks will change hosts. Young ticks will attach to small animals and be dispersed by them. Nymphs and adults on the other hand will climb onto grasses, shrubs and even plants to gain height in order to latch onto larger hosts. Adult ticks will even settle on plants for months waiting for a host to come by.
Deer tick nymphs are the size of a poppy seed and deer tick adults are the size of a sesame seed. Deer ticks are responsible for the spread of Lyme disease, Babesiosis and Anaplasmosis. Although the highest risk of being bitten by a deer tick occurs throughout the spring, summer and fall seasons, the adults can continue searching for a host any time winter temperatures are above freezing.
The American dog tick is about the size of a watermelon seed and is responsible for the spread of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Tularemia. The adult dog tick bites humans throughout the spring and summer seasons.
Lyme Disease is the most notable tick-borne disease and the most well know. Lyme Disease is currently only reported in 13 states in the U.S but the number of cases is epidemic. New Hampshire is one of these 13 states with over 1,500 cases of Lyme Disease reported last year alone.
In addition to Lyme Disease, ticks are also responsible for two other diseases that are becoming more prevalent.
Anaplasmosis is spread by the deer tick. Symptoms include: fever, headache, chills, and muscle aches. While antibiotics can treat Anaplasmosis, early detection is critical. Unfortunately, Anaplasmosis can be fatal in severe cases and if left untreated.
Babesiosis is spread by the deer tick. Symptoms include: fever, chills, fatigue, muscle aches, and vomiting. Since these symptoms mimic flu-like symptoms, it makes early detection tougher. Treatment medication is available and better the earlier it is detected.