A “horror of ticks” may not be the “correct” collective noun for ticks (and who knows what is?), but it does seem appropriate given the recent surge in horror tales of tick in the news. Long the bane of outdoor and nature enthusiasts, ticks have mutated their creepy crawly reputation into starring roles as alien invading, self-cloning, multi-disease spreading, cavity probing, allergy inducing, blood-sucking to the death, biological weapons.
This might bring to mind the giant mutations in the 1993 horror flick — Ticks (trailer here), but you might want to think more along the lines of this:
Ticks can be the size of a poppy seed. Can you spot all 5 ticks in this photo? Learn how to prevent tick bites. https://t.co/ATtrY7YFoS pic.twitter.com/gBm4tw2qmf
— CDC (@CDCgov) May 4, 2018
So what’s exactly are these “horror of ticks” making the news:
Found: Alien invasion of US by Asian Long Horned Tick
There are currently over 90 species of ticks in the US and 899 species world wide. According to the CDC, in 2017 the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NSVL) confirmed the existence of an alien species of tick in the US — the Asian Long Horned Tick is native to eastern China, Japan, the Russian Far East, and Korea. The first known sample of its alien invasion into the US was collected in 2010 in West Virginia.
As of June 2019, the Asian Long Horned Tick’s territorial expansion includes: Arkansas, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut and Tennessee.
Current list of infested hosts including sheep, goats, dogs, cats, horses, cattle, white-tailed deer, Virginia opossums, raccoons, coyotes, red-tailed hawks, red foxes, grey foxes, striped skunks, eastern cottontail rabbits, elk, groundhogs, Canadian geese and humans.
What makes these ticks particularly worrisome
The female ticks can lay eggs and reproduce without mating.
That means they can live their entire life feeding and reproducing on one host.
Up to thousands of ticks may be found at a time, or on an animal.
Think about it…
Found: Ticks capable of simultaneously spreading multi-diseases
Not all ticks spread diseases. Currently, there are 16 known tickborne diseases in the US, and 9 disease carrying tick species. The ticks that do carry diseases only carries ones specific to their species. Unfortunately, one tick bite can infect a host with more than one bacteria or virus.
The problem arises from ticks feeding from different blood hosts over their life span. With each bite they carry and spread the diseases from past hosts into the bloodstream of new hosts. So, while Lyme disease is the most commonly reported tick-borne diseases in the US, it is some times difficult to diagnose and cure.
Some of these infections are more dangerous than Lyme, and more than one can infect a person at the same time. Simultaneous infection, scientists suggest, may well enhance the strength of the assault on the immune system, while making the disease itself harder to treat or recognize. ~~ Michael Specter, The Lyme Wars
Found: Ear, nose and eye cavities are fair game for ticks
Ticks are blood-sucking ectoparasites (external parasites) that thrive in warm moist environments, so it is a given they will seek warm moist places to make their home while feasting on a host’s blood. The CDC recommends we use a hand mirror to check all parts of our body (especially under you arms, inside your belly button, behind your knees, or between your legs) after outdoor activities in tall grass, brush and wooded areas.
But, recently, a Kentucky man discovered that skin isn’t only home a tick can seek on the human body. Unable to flush a piece of debris from his eye, he went to his optometrist and learned he had a tick embedded in his eyeball.
“Once he [the optometrist] grabbed a hold of it and pulled it off, the tick made a, like a little popping sound when it came off of my eye”
So, where else do ticks go?
“Ears and noses … ticks can get in there and will,” says Edward Walker, an entomologist at Michigan State University. “Some even like those sites.”
Lost & Found News: A Horror of Ticks (Part 2) coming soon…