Wood and Dog Ticks

Wood ticks (Dermacentor andersoni) are common in the western mountains; dog ticks (Dermacentor variables) are common in the coastal regions. Adult wood ticks feed on woodchucks or marmots; adult dog ticks prefer dogs. Nymphs and larvae feed on voles and mice. All stages feed in early summer. Adult ticks, the only stage that attacks humans, are attracted to grassy sites and also to carbon dioxide sources, e.g., cars. Gentle traction with a forceps easily removes these ticks, which always remain intact; tincture of iodine should be applied to the bite area. As these ticks can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, Q fever, and Colorato tick fever, gloves must be worn when removing the tick; by the same token, these rare diseases do not require presumptive treatment. Except in the southeastern United States, summer-feeding ticks 6 mm or longer should be considered dog or wood ticks (36,37).

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