As mites, arachnids, and insects can cause disease or be major pests, it is significant to understand their differences and similarities. These mites and insects are a public health threat in the United States. Some of their bites are like those of ticks in appearance. But there are very few features that differentiate tick bites from all the others. This blog will compare bites of Ticks and other pests, their effects, and how to prevent bites.
Spiders belong to the arthropod family. They have eight legs like ticks. The size of spiders ranges from 0.02 inches to 3.5 inches. To date, there are over 45,000 discovered varieties of spiders. Most spiders are poisonous as they have poison glands. Spiders rarely bite humans, so they are less harmful to humans. Spiders may attack humans if they feel provoked or trapped.
Almost all types of venomous spiders are present in South America and Australia. The intensity of the bite does not depend on the patient’s immunity. But it involves factors such as
- the size of the impact.
- The quantity of venom injected by the spider and
- the bite period.
The reactions may include
- a small bump with severe itchiness.
- cramping and nausea.
Are spiders carriers?
Generally, spiders are non-vectors of any diseases. The spider bite wounds may create infections if exposed to bacteria by scratching or contact with infected objects. It is significant to apply some disinfectant to the affected area.
A study published in 2006 showed that out of 100 spiders tested, only one had infectious germs. Some spider bites only transmit antibiotic-resistant microbes.
But this is an ongoing debate in the field of medical science. Studies on the Black Widow spiders found their fangs transmitted germs to victims. The worst characteristic of these spider bites is that they are antimicrobial resistant.
Types of venomous spiders in the United States
- Hobo Spider:
These spiders live in the northern and western parts of the United States. Also known as “the aggressive house spider,” A hobo spider bite could be mistaken for the brown recluse spider. These spiders have the following features:
- Chevron Pattern on the abdomen
- An oblong abdomen
- dark stripe pattern on a light to medium brown back.
- The presence of spinnerets
These thrive in areas with flowers, woodpiles, etc. One may encounter a hobo spider bite during the mating months of July through September. The common symptoms of the bite include pain, redness, and leg twitching.
- The Brown Recluse Spider:
Also known as the Fiddleback spider or violin spider, the bite is very venomous and causes hundreds of deaths in the United States. Even though they are tiny and hard to identify as they measure 6 to 20 millimeters, The bites would destroy skin in the affected region. This spider’s bite looks like a ring or a bull‘s eye. Apart from that, the person would experience the following symptoms:
- Joint pain
- Coma and
- Weakness or Fatigue.
These symptoms occur only 3 to 8 hours after the spider has bitten the victim. These spiders are medium brown.
- The Black Widow Spider
Their bites affect the nervous system. These spiders have orange, red, or yellow colors on their abdomen. They have a black-shiny body, and their size ranges between 1.2 to 1.5 inches or less.
Once bitten, the victim may experience signs after about 60 minutes. The symptoms are:
- High Blood Pressure.
- Back or Chest Pain
It is significant to provide the victim with instant medical care if they experience the above symptoms.
How to avoid spider bites?
- Always tuck in your pants and shirts if you intend to walk in areas where there have been reported cases of black spider bites.
- Spray all doubtful areas with soapy water.
- Use hand gloves to remove debris such as dried leaves from the flour in the yard.
Mild spider bite remedies
It is significant to know the following remedies if one encounters a mild bite.
- Application of a cool compress to the wound.
- Clean the affected area with soap and water.
- Elevation of the region where the suspected bite had occurred
Tick Bite vs. Spider Bite
Before finding the difference, you should know all about ticks. No worries. This blog saves your time. The following are significant while trying to comprehend the type of spider or tick bite:
Period: The effects of a tick bite show signs only days or weeks after the bite. Tick bites don’t show any reaction while preying on the host. Spider bites immediately show signs.
Symptoms: For tick bites, the reaction occurs after several days. These are due to diseases transmitted by ticks. One might get a Bully’s eye wound even if there is a disease contraction. But in spider bites, victims might have mild symptoms such as red bumps. This happens in the case of non-venomous spiders. So, symptoms caused by poisonous spiders include
- excessive itching,
- Slow or fast heart rate.
Carrier: Ticks are well-known vectors of diseases. They cause Lyme, Borrelia miyamotoi infection, Bourbon Virus infection, etc.
But spiders are not vectors of any disease. Except for the rare case of the transfer of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria. Most spiders do not act as carriers.
Host: Ticks always choose animals as hosts, but humans do act as preferable prey for ticks. Spiders do not bite until and unless they feel provoked or threatened.
Anesthetic: Ticks bite for feeding, and hence they tend to inject an anesthetic into the host. As Spiders use biting as a defense mechanism, their bites have venom.
Holding: Ticks clutch onto the host by making a burrow on the skin. They only dislodge them after they have fulfilled their needs. Spiders do not grab on to the victim.
It is better to meet a doctor if one has got a bite as it avoids confusion and promotes easy detection of the cause.
Similarities: Both these bites might have similarities. These similarities are that the wounds from brown recluse spiders and ticks leave the same mark as a bull’s eye. But they may vary in size. Symptoms of disease-causing ticks and poisonous spider bites include
- blood pressure, either high or low
Mosquitoes are invertebrates that can fly. They are well-known vectors. They are the disseminators of various diseases in the United States. The common diseases they spread are the Zika virus, dengue fever, West Nile virus, and Chikungunya. There are more than 3,000 known species of mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes get diseases from sick victims. The transmission occurs when a mosquito consumes the blood of a person or animal and transmit it to other human or animal by sitting on them. According to the CDC, there are about 200 types of Mosquitoes in the United States. Only 12 out of the 200 cause illnesses.
The most common mosquito-borne disease is malaria. According to some trusted sources, the number of illnesses due to mosquito transmission was about 53,591 in 2018.
Various types of mosquitos are the cause of the spread of many diseases. Some well-known vectors are
- Anopheles quadrimaculatus
- Culex quinquefasciatus,
- Aedes aegypti, etc.
The Life Cycle of a Mosquito
There are four stages in the life cycle of mosquitoes:
- Egg phase: Mosquitos lay eggs on stagnant water or moist soil. The mosquito lays more or less 100 eggs. Laying eggs only happens at night. Identifying the species of mosquitoes is possible by looking at their larvae. For example, Anopheles lays eggs that are boat-shaped.
- Larva Stage: The larva hatches out of the eggs in water. They consume algae present in the water. They are prone to fish-eating them at this stage as parts of their body stay inside the water. They use a tube located on their tails known as a siphon for breathing. During this phase, they lose their outer skin or exoskeleton. This stage is called “molting.”
- Pupal Stage: The larvae have an average moulting of 3 to 4 times, but the final one leads to the creation of the pupa. At this stage, they have a long tail-like structure. They breathe through organs called “trumpets.” If agitated, they tend to go deeper into the water and get back up when required. They are at risk of threats from oil on the surface of the water, fish, humans, and birds. By utilizing air pressure, the adult mosquito emerges from the pupa after an average of 2 days.
- Adult Stage: Female and male mosquitoes feed on the blood of various animals and humans. Drinking blood at this stage helps them survive. The females live up to 1-2 months. But the male is alive only for five days.
The Microbe Transmission Process
- When a mosquito consumes the blood of an infected person or animal, They inject the virus into their blood.
- This infected blood goes into the body and multiplies. The multiplication takes 2-3 weeks.
- Then the virus gets transferred into the salivary glands of the mosquito.
- Then when the mosquito bites a healthy person, they might fall sick.
A mosquito could only get infected if there were enough germs. A conducive environment is also crucial for multiplication.
How to reduce the risk of mosquito bites?
To keep away from mosquito bites, it is significant to restrict their growth. Also, one should protect themselves from it.
- Use mosquito nets on windows, doors, and your rainwater reservoir.
- Clean the gutters.
- Throw away any unwanted buckets or any other containers that might hold water.
- Change the water for pet animals.
- Using mosquito repellent applications: Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), Para-menthane-diol (PMD), 2-undecanone, etc.
- It is essential to consider applying repellent on top of moisturizers or sunscreen to hold its efficacy.
- Use any anti-mosquito spray.
- Covering garbage cans.
- Treating or buying clothes with Permethrin is useful. This compound acts as a mosquito repellent on clothes.
- Using an air conditioner could be a good option too.
Mosquito Bite Effects:
Mosquitos that strive on blood are females, while males consume nectar from flowers. Mosquito bites leave the victim with itchiness and small red bumps.
The itchiness is due to the body’s reaction to the saliva as an allergen. The body counters allergens through the secretion of an enzyme called histamine. This enzyme stimulates an itching sensation. In children and people with weaker immune systems, the signs are adverse. They might have more itchiness, and severe hives like rashes in the affected area of the bite than a typical adult would have.
Major diseases caused by mosquitoes in the United States
The West Nile Virus:
Mosquitoes spread this disease from the summer months into the winter. But there are year-round cases of infection in the southern regions of the United States. This disease rarely turns deadly. About 1 in 5 people infected only get symptoms. According to studies, one in 150 people gets severe and long-lasting symptoms. These vulnerable groups include people with chronic disorders, such as hypertension, diabetes, cancer, or kidney failure.
Common symptoms include:
- Body and head pain
- Swollen lymph glands
Some of the severe symptoms are:
- Meningitis ( stiffness in the neck)
- Muscle function loss
- Encephalitis or Meningoencephalitis (swelling of the brain tissues along with fever)
Treatment for the West Nile Virus:
Oral pain relievers would be the best option during the initial stages. Medical practitioners would provide intravenous fluids and pain relievers if hospitalized due to severe symptoms.
Malaria is one disease that is a local issue and an international issue. According to the CDC, in the United States, about 1500 to 2000 people suffer from the illness each year. Most people who contract the disease are travelers and immigrants. Malaria is not only a dangerous disease. The Plasmodium parasites that cause malaria have high drug resistance.
The parasite enters the host’s blood when a vector bites. The injection of the parasite happens in the form of sporozoites and merozoites. They put sporozoites in humans and merozoites in animals. The parasite grows in the liver for 7 to 10 days in humans and the lung capillaries in animals.
Then there is continuous destruction of red blood cells, causing fever in both cases.
- Intense chills or sweating
- Low blood pressure
Treatment and diagnosis
For detecting malaria, the general method is a laboratory test. The most common tests for malaria are with blood samples from patients or animals.
Treatment includes the following:
- Children, pregnant and lactating mothers need prescriptions for high doses of artesunate. Substituting artemether or quinine for artesunate, if it is unavailable, is an option.
- Providing anti-malaria drugs such as chloroquine and quinine to the infected patients helps.
The Chikungunya virus causes this fever. Some symptoms of this fever are similar to dengue and Zika fever. That is why it is misunderstood for other diseases which have shared symptoms. A blood test is an ideal examination for detecting this.
It takes 3–7 days before the symptoms occur after the bite.
- Joint swelling and pain
- Muscle ache
- Patients require rest.
- Prescription of acetaminophen or paracetamol to reduce pain
- A cold compress on the joints
- Avoidance of Anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
This fever is a rare occurrence in the United States. Travelers are the most affected. It is significant to consult a doctor if there is the presence of the following symptoms:
- Yellowing of the skin and other jaundice symptoms.
The disease requires laboratory and imaging tests for diagnosis. It is crucial to get immediate advice from a medical practitioner as it is fatal.
A flavivirus causes this disease. Currently, there are no drugs to treat it. There is only supportive treatment available. Treatment involves the hospitalization of the patient to provide intravenous fluids. These fluids help with the loss of blood and low blood pressure.
Tick Vs. Mosquito Bite
Duration: After a mosquito bite, an immediate reaction occurs on the affected area. Ticks do not cause any reaction in the victims when they bite. It might take days before any wounds occur.
The appearance of the rash: There is a ‘bullseye’ mark in the region, sometimes after a tick has dislodged. There is a small bump where the mosquito bit.
Consumption method: Ticks make boroughs into the skin while feeding on the host. Mosquitoes use a proboscis to penetrate the skin of the host.
Symptoms: It takes weeks before the signs occur in the case of tick-borne diseases. Mosquito-borne diseases take up to 7 days before symptoms transpire.
Tick and mosquito bites similarities.
- Ticks and mosquitoes are both vectors.
- They carry viruses, bacteria, or other microbes that cause diseases.
- They both get illness-causing microbes from an infected host. Ticks and mosquitoes might spread fatal diseases.
Ringworm is a skin infection caused by the tinea corporis fungus. This fungal infection is misunderstood many times as a disease related to worms. The wound for this appears round in shape, like a ring.
The skin itches where the ringworm is present. The wound appears to be scaly. Ringworm affects areas of the groin, scalp, nails, and feet. Both humans and animals contract this disease. It occurs in people with compromised immunity, deficiency of certain nutrients, malnutrition, and poor hygiene.
- Animals may transmit this disease.
- Direct skin contact with another infected person
- Getting in contact with an affected person’s combs, clothes, or blankets
- Contaminated soil could also be the cause of the disease.
Symptoms of ringworm:
- The affected region on the skin would have a ring-like shape and scaly skin.
- There is an appearance of an unusual color on the infected nails.
- In the hair-growing region, red itchy spots appear.
- Swelling might occur in the regions affected by the fungus.
Keratin on the skin deteriorates over time which causes scaly wounds which appear black or red. It is treatable by a medical practitioner. This disease is not deadly. These are signs only on the skin.
Ringworm Bite vs. Tick Bites
It is crucial to understand that bites of insects or bugs do not cause ringworms. It is by a fungus called Tinea. But a tick bite, as already mentioned, is caused by the arthropod tick.
Ringworm-infected regions have a ring-like structure. The affected skin has a scaly pattern. The center could look like normal skin or scaly. Over time, this spreads and may become bigger. The wound could be mistaken for a bull’s eye wound caused by tick bites.
Ringworms in different parts of the body have different names:
- Ringworm on foot is Tinea Pedis. Another name for this is “Athlete’s foot.”
- Groin region ringworm is Tinea Cruris or jock itch.
- Ringworm on the hands, also known as tinea manus
- Ringworm of the nails, or Tinea Unguium.
In comparison to ticks, the following is a description of ringworm wounds:
- The wound appears in dots at the beginning, and then it takes the shape of a ring.
- This ring structure grows as the fungus destroys the keratin in the regions where it is developing. There might be healing skin in the middle of the wound.
The ringworm manifests itself in two ways:
- Around the corner, dried ringworm may be scaly. Wet ringworm lesions have blisters.
- The bite from Lyme disease leaves one with a bull’s-eye mark. The rash is tiny and has a ring around it. The rash appears after or before the contraction of the disease. It becomes visible after days of biting. The bite and the rash do not occur in the same region of the body. There is no scaly skin, only clear skin on the rash region.
In the case of ringworm, a person would experience symptoms only on the skin. The affected region may be itchy.
But, if a tick bite had not transmitted any diseases, there might be no symptoms. If a person contracts a disease through its bite. They might experience symptoms such as fever, cold, Chills, etc.
To sum up, ringworm only causes symptoms on the skin. But infected tick bites may cause internal symptoms.
Treatment: Ringworm clears up completely within 2-3 weeks by using medications sold over the counter. These medicines come both for external application and topical use.
Ringworm may go away on its own within a month. The treatment of the diseases caused by ticks requires a medical practitioner. It is preferable to seek aid from a medical practitioner even though it may go away on its own. It is significant not to ignore the symptoms, as the microbes may even stay dormant in the body. The dormant microbes may cause other issues in the long run. Lab testing or imaging is the first phase of diagnosis. For the treatment of the disease, the medical practitioner would prescribe antibiotics.
In the case of illnesses such as Lyme, it can take up to 3–4 weeks to get relief. According to Scientific experts, in rare cases, this illness is not entirely curable in rare cases. If this is left untreated or diagnosed early, patients could develop chronic symptoms. These include arthritis, shortness of breath, and memory problems.
Steps to avoid the contraction of ringworm:
- Change clothes and undergarments at least once a day.
- Eat nutritious foods that build immunity.
- When going to gyms, public showers, and beaches, wear flip-flops or protective shoes.
- After every sports activity session, take a bath.
- If there is an infected pet, make sure to take it to the vet. Vacuum the areas where the animals move. Also, use anti-fungal sprays in the areas where dogs shed hair. This helps kill off any fungal spores. Always make sure to wear gloves while handling animals with ringworm.
- Wash your hands after coming in contact with objects used by an infected person or animal.
- Keep yourself clean and dry at all times.
- Cutting nails on toes and fingers also keep ringworm away.
Black Flies Bites
Simulium cloisonne, or black flies, is a public health risk-causing insect. They are present in Florida and various other parts of the United States. This insect has multiple names, such as “buffalo gnats” or “turkey gnats.” They have the habit of moving around the eyes and necks of people. They may get into one’s eye like “eye gnats.”
There are different food patterns for female and male black flies. Female black flies feed on blood, while males feed on nectar. There are about 250 species of black flies in the United States.
The life cycle of black flies from pupal to adult is about 3 to 4 weeks. The life of an adult lasts up to 85 days.
Life cycle of Blackflies:
Black flies need moving water to lay eggs. Moving water sources such as rivers, streams, roadside drains, etc., serve the purpose. They prefer water with high oxygen levels for laying eggs. They need a warm temperature and a good amount of vegetation near the water where they lay eggs.
The female lays eggs on the vegetation in the moving water regions. Stagnant water cannot serve the purpose. Their population increases during heavy rainy seasons. A female black fly can lay up to 200–500 eggs per feeding of blood. They lay the egg on or in flowing water. In flowing water, they may lay eggs on rock or any kind of vegetation present, the same as that found outside the water. The larvae hatch out of the eggs in about a month, but this varies from species to species.
The unavailability of food and incorrect temperatures influences the larvae’s development. The larval stages approximately last for 1–6 months. The pupal stage occurs downstream during the spring and summer months. This phase ends in 4–7 days with the transformation of the pupal into an adult stage. This phase occurs from April to July. Immediately after attaining adulthood, some black flies mate. From species to species, the number of generations per fly varies.
How to identify a black fly?
- Black flies are black, brown, orange, or yellow.
- They possess compound eyes and wings. These flies live in wet regions.
- They are found 5 to 15 millimeters in length.
Blackflies and their hosts:
- The feeding ground for black flies need not be close to their breeding site. Female black flies may travel up to 40 miles to feed on blood and lay eggs.
- Black Flies use the sense of smell, temperature, and vision to target its hosts. Birds are the principal prey of black flies. But they also feed on cattle, humans, and other wild animals.
- They tend to drink the pool of blood that emerges while the black flies scratch on the surface of the host.
- The victim experiences pain after the bite. The pain is due to the release of anticoagulants into the blood during the feeding process.
- They bite during the daytime in the mornings or afternoons. They feed on exposed skin.
How to protect dogs from black fly bites?
- It is vital to keep your dog indoors while the black fly season is ongoing.
- One may apply creams provided by veterinarians to repel the flies.
- Cover compost bins.
- Make sure to keep dogs away from vegetated regions.
- Spraying pesticides in the air is the prime method of black flies reduction.
- Sometimes these prove inefficient, as black flies travel long distances for breeding.
- If a dog gets a black fly bite, it might be itchy due to the anticoagulants. The fly injects these enzymes for better blood flow.
- Provide your dog with an oatmeal bath.
- Use anti-cortisol cream, Epsom salt, and baking soda for application and bathing.
- Taking antihistamine tablets may also help you in preventing black fly bites.
Prominent Ticks That Feed On Dogs
- American Dog Tick – The American dog tick lives in the southern parts and the coastal regions of the United States. These ticks belong to the hard tick species. They spread diseases such as Rocky Mountain Fever, which can be fatal.
- Blacklegged ticks – The Blacklegged ticks are also called deer ticks. Their name originates from their most preferred reproductive host, the deer. They cause diseases such as Lyme Disease, Babesiosis, and Ehrlichiosis. It is present in the Midwest, northeast, west, southeast, and southern regions of the United States. The ticks are orange in color, with a black spot on the upper part of the thorax.
- Lone Star Tick – The other name for the tick is Amblyomma americanum. These are present on the northeastern side of the United States. This can be the cause of spotted fever rickettsiosis in dogs. These are responsible for the spread of the disease called Ehrlichiosis.
- Brown Dog Ticks – Also called Rhipicephalus sanguineus, they have reddish-brown mouthparts. The unique characteristic of this tick is that it can survive indoors. This tick can be found all around the world.
Diseases caused by ticks in dogs
Ticks are dangerous for dogs as they cause diseases that make them sick and could also kill them. It is crucial to identify ticks early and get them treated by veterinarians. Dogs get them as they stroll around where there are trees. This is because they have less protection, making them prone to infestation. Ticks
tend to grab them for their blood meal. It is the responsibility of the pet owner to get them treated immediately.
Dogs get various diseases, but these are zoonotic. Zoonotic microbes do not affect humans directly. They can only affect humans through vectors. In this case, the carrier is a tick.
Dogs can contract many diseases from tick bites. But some of them have life-threatening symptoms. Some of the many diseases that dogs contract are:
It is a disease caused by a bacteria called “E. canis.” The common symptoms which occur in dogs are:
- Poor appetite,
- Neurologic disorders
- abnormalities, fatigue, etc.
It destroys white blood cells. Hence this affects the immune system of the dog.
It is crucial to take the dog to the vet if it shows the above-stated symptoms.
The veterinarian would run various lab tests with the blood, feces, and urine of the dog. They would also conduct a physical examination. Detection of the type of Ehrlichiosis is possible using the tests stated above.
The various treatments available for dogs include doxycycline and fluid-based treatments. Blood transfusions are also performed on the infected dog as it experiences blood loss.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: This illness could be life-threatening. The common symptoms are fever, stomach pain, vomiting, lack of appetite, depression, etc. The bacteria Rickettsia rickettsii is the cause of the disease.
Diagnosis – The veterinarian would perform an X-ray along with lab tests of samples. Other tests are the immunofluorescence assay, PCR, and spinal fluid top.
There is a chance of complete recovery if treated at early stages. This fever also requires fluid interventions for the dog.
Canine Bartonellosis The bacteria called Bartonella causes this disease. It’s other name is cat scratch fever.
The symptoms include
- Inflammation of the nose, heart muscles, and eyes
Lab tests might reveal that the dog is anemic. They also increased white blood cells and decreased albumin. There might be uneven liver enzymes present in the dog.
The treatment is, most of the time, home-based. They require bed rest as this is a mild illness for dogs.
Lyme Disease: This occurs in both humans and dogs. Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria is the cause of it. Dogs with Lyme disease have the following signs:
- Fatigue and an overall deterioration of health
- Swollen joints and lameness
Giving sick dogs Doxycycline is crucial. This helps in subsiding the fever within a few days. But it is significant to consume medications for almost a month.
If left untreated, it may lead to the failure of organs such as the liver, kidneys, and nervous system.
How to protect dogs from ticks?
- Use a repellent collar on the dog.
- Call a tick control agent.
- Check the dog for ticks after having a stroll in tick suspected regions.
- Avoid walking your dog in areas that have weeds or woods.
- Trim your long yard grass short.
Ticks Vs. Black Flies on Dogs
Size: Unlike ticks that crawl on the host, black flies tend to fly to various regions to prey on hosts. Black flies are more visible than ticks, which is very hard to see as their size is of a sesame seed.
Symptoms: Ticks do not have immediate effects but may leave a rash afterward. Black flies’ sting is robust and may leave one with painful red rashes. The pattern of the black fly rash has no similarity to that of a tick bite. Black fly bites leave small red welts on the surface of the skin. Following being bitten by a black fly, the dog may experience anaphylaxis and hives. There might be severe symptoms in some cases. On very rare occasions, the rash does not clear on its own and may need the aid of a veterinarian. In rare cases, symptoms include fever, headache, and nausea.
Mode of prey: Black flies travel miles to attack their host. They tend to go directly to the target and do not wait. Ticks are very patient arthropods that wait for the host to reach them. They await on grass tips where their host might rub the surface.
Ticks are vectors of serious diseases in dogs, such as Ehrlichiosis, tularemia, etc. Black flies can also cause an illness called black fly fever. Only in a few instances will the dog exhibit symptoms such as fever and skin rashes.
Rashes: The Blackflies rash on the dog has a red spot in the middle and a ring around it. Tick bites in dogs are similar to a bull’s eye.
Chiggers are a member of the Orientia tsutsugamushi genus. These mites are hexapods. They are the larva stage of their family. They tend to strive for blood only during the larval stage. But in the nymph and adult stages, they consume other mites or insects. They are 200 mm in length. Their bodies resemble spiders in magnification.
Chiggers prefer tropical, humid climates. These pests are present in various places of the world, such as the United States, India, Pakistan, Australia, and even parts of Europe. In the United States, chiggers are also called redbugs or harvest mites.
The life cycle of Chiggers: Chiggers are the larvae of prostigmatid mites. The male places its sperm packets on the substrate of the female. Then the adult female prostigmatid mite introduces the sperm into the genital region. After fertilization of the eggs, the female finds a suitable moist area to lay eggs. Most of the time, the soil is a favorable region. Later, the parasitic larvae emerge from the eggs in five to seven days.
When can one expect chigger bites?
Chiggers reproduce year-round. They create five generations per year. Most of the reproduction happens during the spring months. The population spike occurs only during the hot summer months. As a result, one can expect to be bitten by them during the summer. It is significant to understand these mites. As they are small, magnification glasses can be helpful to identify. It can be detected after the bite occurs.
Are chiggers vectors?
Chiggers act as vectors for the disease Scrub typhus. The bacteria Orientia tsutsugamushi causes the disease. The bacteria belong to the Rickettsiaceae family. The chiggers that feed on the blood of mice are the only ones that carry the disease. Western scientists in 1906–1932 first discovered Orientia tsutsugamushi. The genesis of this comes from Southeast Asian countries. In the West, it was first reported by Theobald Adrian Palm in 1878. This disease is zoonotic and occasionally occurs in humans. The Japanese scientist Hakuju Hashimoto first put down details of the fever. He believed this occurred near the bank of the Shinano River. In the early 20th century, zoologist Stanley Hirst put forward various assumptions. He stated that the disease was due to the mites that lived in the ears of mice.
Symptoms of Orientia tsutsugamushi
Bush typhus is an illness that is fatal if no medical intervention is sought at the right time. It is deadly to those who are malnourished or diabetic.
People with this illness would incur rashes on their trunks. These rashes would spread to other regions of the body. This disease affects the central nervous system. This disease could pose the following symptoms:
- Fever and chills.
- Delirium or coma.
- aches and pains in the body, stomach aches, and headaches.
- Organ failure in cases where it is not treated.
- Enlarged lymph nodes
After the bite, it takes 10–12 days for the bacteria to spread
Tests required for the detection of Scrub fever
The usual tests for bush illness involve skin biopsies and blood tests. But laboratory tests may take time for this disease. So doctors may start treatment early before results arrive. It would be helpful for diagnosis if patients provided details regarding travel.
The treatment most of the time includes doxycycline and other antibiotics. The bacteria respond well to antibiotics.
Immunity and Vaccination
There are no vaccines produced for this bacteria that causes the fever. There might be no permanent immunity against this bacteria that occurs in humans. Hence, making humans vulnerable to the disease if chiggers bite them again.
How to protect yourself from chiggers?
- It is first vital to stay away from regions that are chigger-infested. If the necessity arises to visit a chigger-infested region, this is not a big issue. Chiggers do not have any mechanism to hold on to the hosts. So only a few successfully bite humans.
- It is recommended to take a warm bath after strolling in areas with suspicion of chiggers.
- Insect repellents with DEET could be applied.
- Wearing clothes that expose less skin.
- Wash and treat all clothes, boots, and other items carried to chigger-infested regions. Permethrin products can come in handy.
How do chiggers latch onto hosts?
Chiggers do not fly as they belong to the same family as spiders and ticks. They tend to be in moist soil or grassy regions. As the adults primarily reproduce in the highly vegetated areas, when humans or animals contact them, they tend to grab them. The host can feel nothing as they are tiny. One can feel the signs after three to four hours of the bite.
How do chiggers bite?
Chigger bites, if infected or not, can be itchy. When a chigger feeds on the host, it secretes a digestive enzyme on the prey’s skin to consume cells. This enzyme would destroy the layer of skin, making it comfortable for the mite to consume. They consume cells using the ‘stylostome.’ The stylostome is a feeding tube.
Symptoms of Chigger Bites:
- This enzyme makes it itchy for the host as it triggers an immune response. The presence of the feeding tube could also cause itchiness as it liquefies the prey’s body. The prey experiences rashes, which occur as there is damage to the skin cells in the region.
- The bumps may be flat or inflamed. There are also blisters in the bite region.
- These rashes and blisters occur in clumps as the chigger strives in clusters.
What to do after incurring chigger bites?
If you have red rashes in a cluster pattern, you should consider the following:
- Application of creams such as hydrosol cortisone cream, aloe vera gel, calamine solution
- As you may itch the region, it might get infected with microbes. Applying Antiseptic creams for reducing the risk of secondary infection
- Taking an antihistamine reduces itching.
- Bathing in hot water with medicated soaps could help.
How to keep chiggers under control?
- Trimming the grass to less than 6 inches thick
- Cutting down shrubbery:
- Spray chigger-specific pesticides to kill them. Treating all possible areas is crucial to getting rid of them completely. Spray them at least twice a week or more.
- Vacuum inside the house regularly to keep the chiggers at home. Even though it is rare for them to strive inside the home, clean the collector with hot water and soap.
- Chiggers do not live inside homes. But if it is suspected, spraying anti-chigger spray could help get rid of these pests.
Even though the larvae of a prostigmatid mite are a pest, The grown adult is helpful in many ways, as it gets rid of other insects, mites, or bugs as they feed on them.
Tick vs. Chigger Bites
Appearance: Chiggers and some types of ticks have been misunderstood for many years. Lone star ticks are arthropods like chiggers. They are about 1–5 mm and belong to an arachnid. These arachnids have eight legs. The shape of the lone star tick is very similar to that of chiggers. They are reddish-brown. Their white dot behind their back helps to identify them. Chiggers are red. They are hexapods that have six legs. They are 1 to 2 mm in size.
Habitat: Chigger larvae are mites that live in areas where there is grass or heavy vegetation with moisture. These need hot and humid regions to survive. Ticks also need wet, weed-filled, and wooded areas to thrive. They live in areas where the grass is left untrimmed.
Grabbing the host: Both ticks and chiggers can neither fly nor jump. When a person comes into contact with the grass, a tick or a chigger waits for a host. Both these mites grab onto the surface of the skin.
Enzyme: Ticks create an enzyme that acts like cement. The enzyme helps with grabbing the skin of the host. They make burrows while feeding. While chiggers do not have such a mechanism to hold on to their prey.
Stages of feeding: The prostigmatid mite does not feed on other animals, birds, or humans in its adult phase. The chiggers are the larvae of the prostigmatid mite larvae that feed. Ticks only live on the blood of other animals, whether they are in their adult or larval stage.
Disease transmission: Ticks are vectors of dangerous diseases such as Lyme, babesiosis, Borrelia mayonii, etc. The star-lone tick, mistaken for chiggers, does not cause any harmful disease. They cause red meat allergies called Alpha-Gal. Chiggers, on the other hand, rarely cause any illnesses in the United States. They are, however, the primary cause of Bush typhus. But this only occurs in the Asia Pacific and Southeast Asian regions. This is the reason for conveying the travel history to the doctors. The travel history helps in the treatment of bush typhus disease.
Rash: A tick bite is in the form of a bull’s-eye, medically called erythema migrans. It is characterized by a red round, around which there is a ring. The lone star tick bite is quite different. These leave red welts and rashes. This is very similar to chigger bites, which also leave red bumps.
What do they eat? Ticks of any kind only consume the blood of the hosts. They tend to drink the blood for days. The prey might not feel any symptoms while they are feeding on them. It takes days before the host feels any symptoms or rashes. Chiggers liquefy the surface of the prey’s skin for consumption. Within two to three hours, the person might feel symptoms.
Fleas are biologically called Siphonaptera. They are external parasites that survive on humans’ blood. Fleas survive off the blood of both humans and animals. Fleas are wingless pests that crawl into their hosts. The most common flea is the cat flea. Wild animals can also be the cause of flea infestations. They feed primarily on animals with compromised immune systems.
Life cycle of Fleas:
Fleas have existed since the middle Jurassic times. They are a very ancient species that still exist. The life cycle has four phases. These are:
Egg: This stage involves the laying of eggs by female fleas. A female flea lays 40 eggs per day or thousands per year. They are white. Eggs are 1 mm in size or smaller than sand particles. The female flea lays the eggs on the prey. Without any sticking mechanism, the eggs tend to fall off. It takes about a week before they hatch. The hatching occurs in a conducive environment that is hot and humid. If it is cold, it is unsuitable for the egg to develop.
Larva: The larva is 1 to 2 mm long. They have no legs and appear to be translucent in color. They feed on the blood that is present in their adult droppings. Most larvae feed on diverse foods, such as organic debris in their surroundings. They strive in dark areas. This includes areas under the beds, carpets, sofas, etc. They reach the next stage in approximately two weeks. Larvae account for 80% of the total flea population.
Pupa: The larva spins a silken cocoon. The cocoon is a sticky substance that covers the larvae. The adult emerges from this if it comes into contact with the body heat of its prey or vibration.
Adults: Adult fleas immediately look for their host to feed. The adult breeds and lays eggs after a day. It is crucial to consume blood for female fleas. They require a blood meal to lay eggs.
It is crucial to exterminate fleas in all of their life cycle stages. Complete Extermination would help in getting rid of them.
What do fleas look like?
- A typical flea has a mouthpart. It is black or brown.
- They are 25 mm in length.
- The flea possesses claws which they use for holding onto hosts.
- Fleas can live not only on pets but also in homes.
Fleas on pets:
- Look for fleas, especially on dogs, by looking through their hair. It is difficult to find if they have long or dark-colored hair.
- Fleas can jump. So they may hide easily. Using a flea comb can make the process easier. Run the comb through the hair to find any fleas.
- You should not forget to look at the tail base and the neck. Fleas live specifically in these regions, even though they are found all over the pet’s body.
- If your dog scratches and bites often, It is a sign of the presence of fleas. They will have red patches as a result of having their hair pulled.
Fleas in the home:
Adult fleas make up only 5% of the total population in a house at any given time. It is rather significant to look for fleas in other stages of their lives.
Fleas’ larvae can live underneath carpets, dogs’ beds, or any bedding. They look white but are almost transparent. The eggs are smaller than sand particles. Some use walking with socks around the house to capture them. As these get attached to the socks, it is easy to detect.
How to get rid of fleas?
- Natural methods include using apple cider vinegar spray. Topical application of Neem oil
- Using anti-flea collars
- Give dogs Chewable Tablets for getting rid of fleas.
- Consult a veterinarian for flea control.
How to Get Rid of Fleas in Your Home?
- Call a professional exterminator.
- Vacuuming carpets and rugs. Cautiously dispose of the vacuum bag.
- Wash all clothes and bedding with hot, soapy water
- Spraying the house with chemicals that are meant for fleas
How to Prevent Fleas?
- Reduce your pet’s time outdoors.
- Do not let your pet come in contact with wild animals such as raccoons.
- Soaps protect against infection. So, always wash your pet.
- Look at carpets, beds, rugs, etc. for any fleas or their droppings
What are the various diseases caused by fleas?
The bacteria called Rickettsia typhi is the cause of this disease. Flea bites transmit these to humans. If pet animals contact flea-infested rats, they may infect them with bacteria. Pets infected with fleas are more likely to spread the disease to their owners. This disease is deadly for humans who are alcoholics, diabetics or have kidney disease. This disease requires hospitalization if left untreated. In the United States, only 2% of people die from the disease.
Treatment involves the use of doxycycline. Other antibiotics are effective in the treatment of this disease. Patients recover very fast if treatment is given as soon as the patients show signs of the disease. Early treatment helps in the quick recovery of patients.
Mycoplasma haemofelis: This disease occurs in humans and cats due to fleas. A parasitic bacteria causes this disease. The medical practitioner recommends blood tests to identify the bacteria in the body. In most cases, doctors prescribe doxycycline, enrofloxacin, or marbofloxacin. There have been cases of relapses of this disease.
The tapeworm infects humans through flea bites. Symptoms include
- Abdomen pain
- The presence of eggs or other parts of tapeworms in stools
- Nausea or vomiting.
A stool examination for three days is required. Lab technicians usually look for Taenia eggs in stools.
Treatment: Medical practitioners could only provide treatment for tapeworms. No self-treatment is possible for both pets and humans.
A stool examination for three days is required. Lab technicians usually look for Taenia eggs in stools.
Plague: This disease mostly happens in the rural areas of the United States. Symptoms include
- Swelling of lymph nodes
Diagnosis involves the testing of blood, pus, and mucus samples. The treatment involves using strong antibiotics. The disease is left untreated early enough; it could cause death within 18 or 24 hours.
Tick Bites vs. Flea Bites
Tick bites are not painful or itchy as it takes several days before any reaction occurs. A bull’s eye rash Iis formed, red welt rashes are present on the skin.
Flea bites are itchy. The host has red bumps. The rash might get secondary infections if the host scratches the region. Flea bites and itching may leave pets and humans with flea allergy dermatitis (FAD). This allergy requires prescription medicine.
Diseases: Both ticks and Fleas are vectors of diseases.
Identification: It is hard to identify a tick on the skin. You might not feel anything while it is feeding. You can easily detect fleas as they itch and jump from one place to another.
Manoeuvre: Ticks grab on to hosts and feed in Burroughs. The arachnids crawl on the hosts and cannot fly. On the other hand, Fleas cannot fly as they can jump onto their prey.
Prevention could reduce the risks of contraction of any vector-borne diseases. It is important to note that some of them are resistant to pesticides. The common part among other pests to ticks is that their characteristics differ from ticks. You would have learned the differences in detail, and if you come across tick bites or any other pest bites, this guide will be your source of information that can help you identify the type of bite and the pest. But, it is even safer if you take precautionary and preventive measures to keep you away from pest bites and diseases.