People in Western Washington may be susceptible to tick-borne diseases because of the increase in the population of ticks. Ticks are prevalent in the whole of Washington. The ticks in Washington are active in spring and summer. Especially, the ticks are widely prevalent and active in the months of March to Mid-May and from Mid-August to November. Some of the common tick-borne diseases reported in Western Washington are babesiosis, rocky mountain spotted fever, tick-borne relapsing fever, tick paralysis, and tularemia. This blog will talk about the different types of ticks that are widely prevalent in the Western part of Washington, how to prevent tick bites and how to submit the tick for identification and testing.
Types of ticks in Western Washington
In Western Washington, the most prominent type of ticks that we need to worry about are American Dog Ticks, Blacklegged ticks, and Rocky Mountain Wood ticks. Let us know more about the above-mentioned ticks in brief.
American Dog Tick
American dog ticks or wood ticks are brown and have whitish to grey markings in their dorsal side. These ticks live in grassy regions. These ticks can survive for two to three years without feeding. The American Dog tick may grow up from 5mm to 15 mm. They are hard ticks and carry a scutum on their backs. These ticks live in grassy regions and can survive for two to three years without feeding.
The American Dog tick may grow up to 15 mm in the adult stage. It is known for being the cause of many diseases. The tick may be present in the grassy areas and can latch on to your dog which will carry them to your residential area and can possibly spread to you. This tick can transmit the following disease-causing pathogens – Borrelia burgdorferi, Ixodes ricinus, and D. variabilis may also carry Anaplasma phagocytophilum, the causative agent of human granulocytic anaplasmosis, and Ehrlichia chaffeensis, etc.
Blacklegged ticks or deer ticks are hard ticks that are most commonly found in the deciduous forests and tall grassland and shrub regions of Western Washington. Blacklegged ticks take nearly 2 years to complete their lifecycle and can transmit deadly tick-borne diseases. They are considered prime vectors of the bacteria which cause Lyme disease and also transmit other Borrelia species, including Borrelia miyamotoi.
Tick disease that the Deer tick can transmit includes B. burgdorferi to humans, Babesia microtia, and Anaplasma phagocytophilum, which cause the diseases babesiosis and human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA). Their reproductive host is the white-tailed deer.
Rocky Mountain Wood Tick:
The Rocky Mountain Wood Tick is visually similar to the American Dog ticks and they are prevalent in the wooden lands, open grasslands, and the sub-alpine regions of the Western Washington area. They are brown. The Rocky Mountain tick larvae and nymph feed on chipmunks, voles, and squirrels. The adults prefer large and medium-sized mammals, including humans, sheep, deer, etc. The Rocky Mountain Wood Tick is the vector of diseases such as Colorado tick fever; Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and tularemia.
Tick paralysis is also commonly associated with this type of tick. Meaning, that the dog might face or get affected by a tick paralysis if it comes in contact with the rocky mountain wood tick. Tick paralysis does not occur due to any pathogens transmission. This happens only due to the neurotoxins present in the saliva of the ticks. The canine tick paralysis requires immediate veterinary intervention. Otherwise, this could lead to the death of the dog. In humans, tick paralysis generally wades off after removing the tick.
Alpha gal syndrome is also a prominent disease that the rocky mountain wood tick might spread. Alpha-Gal syndrome or the mammalian-meat allergy happens when a sugar molecule from bovine is transferred to humans. This requires a diet free of red meat.
What To Do If You Find A Tick On Yourself?
- First, do not panic.
- Try to remove the tick with tweezers and apply rubbing alcohol.
- Put the tick into the alcohol container to kill it.
- These steps are very crucial to avoid any repercussions.
- Make sure to meet the doctor if any febrile symptoms or rashes occur.
How Can I Avoid Tick-Borne Diseases in Western Washington?
- Know where to find ticks – Ticks are commonly found in grassy, brushy, or woodland areas. Avoid woody and brushy areas with tall grass and leaf litter whenever possible. Ticks love to eat in the middle of trails, especially in the spring and summer.
- Wear fully covered clothing – Wear light-colored, closely woven long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when in tick habitats. Tuck your shirt into your pants and your pant legs into socks or boots. This keeps ticks on the outside of your garment, where they’re easier to notice.
- Usage of Tick Repellents – When tick repellent is required, use it according to the label’s recommendations. Use a tick-repellent that has been approved by the EPA. This will help you with tick encounters.
- Check your clothing, gear, and pets – Ticks can enter your home on clothing or pets and eventually adhere to you or a family member. Examine coats, camping gear, and daypacks thoroughly for ticks. Treat your clothes with permethrin after your outdoor adventure.
- Take a quick shower – Showering within two hours of being in a tick habitat can lower your risk of Lyme disease and may also help you avoid other tick-borne illnesses. Showering can remove unattached ticks and is a good time to check for ticks.
- Check for ticks after your outdoor adventure – Ticks should be checked thoroughly on your body and your child’s. Examine the hair, head, neck, ears, and underarms with great care.
Ticks are rising in the Western Washington state. It is significant to stay protected to avoid any disease transferred by ticks. If there is a tick infestation at the house, it is best to call an exterminator. Reach out to the doctor if you think you have any tick infection-related symptoms. It is best to prevent tick bites by following government regulations and the above-mentioned precautions.