Lyme Disease

Ticks In Ohio: What You Need To Know About The Disease Carrying Pests

The number of ticks in Ohio is expected increase substantially due to an unusually mild winter. As the pests are often infested with bacteria and parasites, health officials are warning residents to take precautions to avoid being bitten and to recognize symptoms associated with tick-borne illnesses.

Ticks are small, pear-shaped, parasitic arachnids, which feed on the blood of amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles by piercing the skin and burrowing their head into the open wound.

As reported by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the most common ticks in Ohio are the American dog tick, the blacklegged tick, and the lone star tick.

All three of Ohio’s most common ticks are Ixodidae ticks, which have hard bodies and break the host’s skin with a beak-like structure on the front of its body. Unlike “soft” ticks, Ixodidae ticks often remain attached to the host for days or even weeks if they are not forcibly removed.

Although their bodies are generally flat before feeding, Ixodidae ticks can increase their size up to 100 times as they engorge themselves on the host’s blood.

Wildlife is generally not negatively impacted by ticks or tick bites. However, they can cause illness in humans and pets. Ticks can cause a variety of illnesses, including Anaplasmosis, Powassan disease, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. However, ticks in Ohio are most likely to spread Lyme disease.

In pets, Lyme disease symptoms can include fever, joint pain, loss of appetite, and swelling of the joints. Although rare, the disease can cause kidney failure.

In humans, Lyme disease commonly causes fever, headache, and a skin rash. However, the infection can cause serious damage to the heart, nervous system, and joints if left untreated.

Health officials recommend several measures to prevent tick bites, including appropriate repellents for humans and pets. If a tick is found attached to the skin, it is important to carefully remove the pest, so its head does not remain attached.

Anyone who is bitten by a tick is cautioned to be aware of the symptoms of tick-borne illness and to seek medical attention if necessary.

As reported by Fox 8, the number of ticks in Ohio has increased “steadily” over the last four years. Officials believe the unusually mild winter has contributed to an increase in ticks and instances of Lyme disease in 2017.

[Featured Image by Vitalii Hulai/Shutterstock]