IMPORTANT NOTE: If you suspect that the tick bite may result in the transmission of disease you need to keep the tick in good condition so that the tick can to be tested as the disease carrier. Without this evidence it can be difficult to obtain treatment.
Here's one way to preserve the tick - use a small section of paper towel and make it just damp, place the tick in the towel and seal it in a plastic zip-lock bag (date it) . . . place it in the refrigerator. Ticks can be tested at Igenex, they are a fully approved testing facility.
The best method for stopping insect borne disease is to avoid the bite. This is equally true for both mosquitoes and ticks. The best system for accomplishing this is a repellent system known as the DoD system. It stands for Department of Defense and comprises two components: a topical deet repellent applied to exposed skin AND treatment of clothing with permethrin.
To begin with, ticks don't fly, jump or blow around with the wind; these suspects are not ticks. Ticks are slow and lumbering, while spiders are quick and nimble. They are small, very patient and amazing in their capacity to locate their host/prey. Their purpose in life is only to propagate their species and unknowingly pass diseases to those hosts they feed on. They don't feed often, but when they do, they can acquire disease agents from one host and pass it to another host at a later feeding. Their sensory organs are complex and they can determine trace amounts of gases, such as carbon dioxide left by warm-blooded animals and man. They can sense the potential host's presence from long distances and even select their ambush site based upon their ability to identify paths that are well traveled.
Understanding the disease potential ticks threaten us with and having the capability to identify the basic tick group will help you present your symptoms or potential disease issues to your Doctor so that treatment can be initiated.
Although the number of tick species is in the hundreds, there are relatively few ticks that interact with mankind and domestic animals causing harm. While most ticks limit their host selection, others are opportunistic feeders and will feed on almost any accessible host. A tick, which feeds on a select host group, will move infective agents within that group. However, when a tick is a nonselective feeder, it can transmit disease agents from one host group to another. These nonselective ticks pose the largest threat of infection in man.
Ticks generally are not born with disease agents but rather acquire them during various feedings. They then pass the disease on to other animals and mankind during subsequent feedings. When an infection moves from an animal host to a human it is called zoonosise. Lyme disease, babiosisos, erlichiosious and tularemia are examples of such diseases.
Ticks have life cycles that involve three distinct life stages of development- larval (infant), nymph (immature) and adult (mature). The ticks known for the greatest quantity of disease infections are the Ixodes group. The group consists of many ticks but the ones of most concern are ixodes scapolarius, ixodes pacificus, ixodes damini, and ixodes ricionoiuse.
Even experts find it difficult to distinguish the ixodes ticks based on physical characteristics alone since a large part of identification relies on the geographical location they inhabit. When the female tick engorges on blood, her body change of both size and color is so significant that she is unrecognizable when compared to her pre-engorgement appearance. Look at the below sequence of a Lone Star tick as she engorges . . . is this hard to believe? In an attempt to simplify identification we are providing photographs showing various stages of the tick during the feeding process. Regardless of the difficulty in identifying specific tick species within a group it is quite easy (with the aid of our photographs) to identify ticks belonging to the group. That is the purpose of this website!
Besides the body types associated to different tick species, each has a distinguishing characteristic called the shield. It is an area just behind the mouthpart and is the key part of this tick identification method. You'll see in the photographs that the shield remains constant in size and in relationship to the mouthparts. The only difference you will note is that the shield pivots forward in relation to the mouthparts as the tick becomes more and more engorged. By using this system and knowing where the tick specimen originated, you will be able to identify the tick with reasonable certainty.