Deer Ticks

Lyme disease, babesiosis, granulocytic ehrlichiosis, and tickborne encephalitis are carried by Ixodes scapularis (formerly I. dammini), in the eastern United States, Ixodes pacificus, in the western United States, and Ixodes rici-nus and Ixodespersulcatus, in Europe (28,29). Tick larvae that quest for hosts from August through September and nymphs that quest for hosts from May to July feed on mice, where they obtain pathogens. Adults that quest for hosts from October through April feed upon deer. Humans are accidental hosts who may be attacked by larvae, nymphs, and adults wherever deer are numerous, particularly at brushy margins of forested sites. Rapid evaluation of ticks is vital to prevent disease transmission. Lyme disease and babesiosis pathogens wait for about two days of tick feeding before traveling through tick saliva to rest on the skin surface. Hence, within the first two days of a tick bite, firm traction applied with a forceps should remove as much of the tick as possible; tincture of iodine should then be applied to the skin to kill adherent pathogens. Established practice notwithstanding, leaving behind part of the tick's mouth is not problematic; neither will heat, burning, or chemical weaponry aid in tick removal. Dead ticks rarely, if ever, transmit disease. Any blood-engorged, 2 mm tick is considered infectious; promptly administered doxycycline helps prevent Lyme disease (30,35).

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