Ticks are very small arachnids, and they are naturally found in the higher elevations, especially in the woody and grassy areas. They mainly consume the blood of humans and animals by sticking onto the body, and the host hardly knows about their presence till it becomes so late. This had led to the spread of several tick-borne diseases. There are mainly six tick-borne diseases in Missouri – Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, tularemia, Lyme disease, and disease caused by Heartland and Bourbon virus. Knowing the different types of ticks in Missouri is significant to prevent tick bites during your outdoor adventure.
Type of Ticks in Missouri
The blacklegged ticks are three-host ticks. They are also called deer ticks or bear ticks. These ticks are to be removed as early as possible as they may transmit diseases such as Lyme disease. Deer ticks are commonly found in the woods and high-altitude areas with overgrown vegetation. They require a blood meal at every stage of their life cycle. They live a maximum of two to three years, and they consume atleast three blood meals to survive each phase of life.
Deer ticks are usually slow feeders; they take nearly three to five days to feed. They quest on to the host, and they take up to 24 hours to transmit Lyme Disease to the host. They are called deer ticks as they prefer deer and rodents as hosts of deer ticks. Rodents are typically the source of the Lyme Disease bacteria that ticks pass along to other hosts. Other diseases they can spread are Borrelia miyamotoi, B. burgdorferi to humans, Babesia microtia, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, babesiosis, and human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA), etc.
American Dog Tick:
These ticks are also known as the wood tick. They carry pathogens that cause Rocky Mountain spotted fever or Tularemia. Their most preferred hosts are dogs. They are active from April to August. They also secrete a cement-like substance that keeps them intact during the hours of consumption. The American Dog Tick is a 3-host tick that mainly targets small to large mammals with larva and nymph stages in small mammals and larger mammals as adults. It is usually found on dogs, cats, and other pets and readily attacks larger animals, such as cattle, horses, and humans. American dog ticks are small-sized, and they are brown to reddish-brown with silver markings on their dorsal side. They are primarily active from mid-April to early September. These ticks can transmit diseases like the Rocky Mountain spotted fever to humans and dogs.
Gulf Coast Tick
Maine and Iowa are common habitat states for these ticks. These ticks are dangerous as they carry various types of harmful pathogens. They have a pyramidal shape instead of the rectangular shape. They prefer animals such as swine, white-tailed deer, cattle, etc. They may cause diseases like Canine Hepatozoonosis, Riketsiosis, Heartwater Tick Paralysis, etc.
The Lone Star tick:
The Lone Star Ticks are very easy to identify. They have a white dot on their backs. They are widely prevalent in the eastern part of the United States, with high prevalence in the woody and forest areas in Missouri. They are the cause of the rash called STARI. Their saliva is also the prime cause of the Mammalian meat allergy or the Alpha-Gal Syndrome. All three stages of the lone star ticks are possibly effective for feeding on humans and are quite aggressive to other tick species. The bite of the lone star ticks does not indicate a bite; instead, it appears like redness or discomfort. So, it is vital to check for lone star ticks if you find those symptoms in the body.
Ticks are a significant concern in the United States and other European countries. Federal and State governments are taking stern action and preventive measures to reduce tick bites and tick-borne infections. But that does not work out until people are self-aware of the infections and take necessary actions to protect themselves from tick infections and diseases. Several disease-causing ticks are prevalent in Missouri. It is known that tick-borne diseases do not have any approved vaccines. So, it is the responsibility of every citizen to abide by the government measures and follow individual preventive measures to keep away from tick infections.