In our Oklahoma service area, ticks are a near-constant threat. The environmental conditions in our state make it the perfect place for ticks to live and thrive. What are these conditions? Humidity, an abundance of wildlife, an abundance of vegetation, and warm weather. While there are many methods for reducing ticks, some folks don't understand how important it is to control ticks in our yards. So, the focus of this article will be on the health risks ticks present to Oklahoma residents, and to their furry family members. Here's what you need to know.
Deer Ticks (also called blacklegged ticks)
When it comes to human pathogens, the deer tick is the tick to have the most concern about. This tick is associated with Lyme disease, which leads to chronic health issues if it is not caught and treated early. In some cases, even when it is treated, it can still turn into chronic illness. It is just given another name.
Initial symptoms of Lyme are rash, fatigue, joint pain, lethargy, mood changes, and pain. As it develops, it may cause cognitive decline, vision changes, skin outbreaks, and neurological issues. There are so many symptoms linked to this disease that it is often misdiagnosed or mistaken for other serious diseases such as MS, Parkinson's, ALS, and Alzheimer's.
It is difficult to track the spread of Lyme disease because the symptoms are difficult to connect to this disease without a patient bringing in the deer tick that bit them or without the presence of a bullseye rash. So, state health officials have a hard time putting out any solid statistics. All we know for sure is that it is best to avoid being bitten by a deer tick.
Deer ticks are quite small at only 1/8 of an inch. Their tiny size allows them to use small birds to spread from region to region and small rodents as vehicles to get into homes. While they can't live long inside a home, they can live long enough to bite. The pest control solution for deer ticks may include a control of rodents and the application of veterinarian-prescribed tick products to pets, in order to keep these ticks from coming in again after an interior treatment has been done by a professional. It should always include routine perimeter treatments to reduce deer ticks in hiding places around the home.
Brown Dog Ticks (also called kennel ticks)
These ticks present the greatest threat to dogs, but when they get into a home they can make people sick too. While they prefer to bite dogs, they will bite humans. Pet owners are more susceptible to bites because dogs can bring these ticks into their laps and into their beds.
When a brown dog tick feeds on a dog, canine ehrlichiosis and canine babesia are the two diseases that should be the greatest concern. Canine ehrlichiosis can cause a dog to be lethargic, lose the desire to eat, and run a fever. Over time this can lead to weight loss. It is also associated with serious symptoms such as arthritis, muscle pain, and abnormal bleeding and bruising. Canine babesia comes with similar symptoms. There may be a lack of energy, loss of appetite, fever, swollen abdomen, and loss of weight. You may see jaundice of the skin, unusual urine and stool coloration, and pale gums.
While brown dog ticks are not linked to Lyme disease, they can spread Rocky Mountain spotted fever to humans, which can lead to serious kidney and heart damage. Early symptoms include high fever, severe headaches, chills, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, and neurological changes. As its name hints, there is also a spotted rash that is associated with this illness.
Brown dog ticks are unique among ticks in that they are able to complete their entire life cycle indoors. If these ticks come into your home, they can stay inside permanently. Interior treatment is usually a necessary first step when dealing with an infestation. This should be followed up with ongoing-exterior pest control to prevent a new infestation from taking root.
If you live in Tulsa or our extensive Oklahoma service area and you are seeing ticks, reach out to Montgomery Exterminating. Don't let ticks create serious health problems for you or your pets. It just isn't worth it.