Vol. IV No. 11 6/1/2023
By Sally Underwood-Miller
Ticks are now out in force. There are many varieties of tick. In general, they are parasitic arachnids that are part of the mite superorder Parasitiformes. Adult ticks are approximately 3 to 5 mm in length depending on age, sex, species, and "fullness". Ticks are external parasites, living by feeding on the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians.
In spite of popular thought, ALL ticks can carry disease and some of those can be extremely serious and/or have long term health effects. The big dog ticks tend to drop off tall shrubs and bushes. The good news is that they take a while deciding where to settle in, and you can usually feel them, allowing you to remove them before they attach. The tiny ticks are more insidious. They bury into your skin and are usually well imbedded before you notice them.
More health professionals need to take these toxic insects seriously, and, IMHO, we should all be tested, at the very least, for tick-borne diseases at our annual physicals. I would suggest, if you have been bitten, get tested! The frustrating part is that it can take several weeks for the antibodies to show up in a blood test. The "bullseye" rash, while a good indicator, is not always present. If you're concerned, prophylaxis treatment can be started within 72 hours of tick removal. (The usual choice is doxycycline.)
check" at the end of a day in tall grasses or woods is critical. Keep in mind that while most of us would like to kill them all, the toxic substances that could be used are also toxic to other creatures, including us! Thank a possum if you see one! They love to eat ticks.
Editor's note: Recently I was bit by a tick. I went to ER immediately to be sure I removed it all and to get an RX for doxycycline. They refused to give me the Rx saying it was a dog tick and not dangerous. I asked Sally to write this so inform all of you: there might not be a disease-free tick. Insist on preventative treatment and testing. Boy I sure hope my tick was the one tick without disease. I have watched the progression of Lyme disease. Scary.
Photo: Lionel Delevingne