Which Ticks Carry Lyme Disease
Written by Dr. Diane Mueller
Not all ticks carry Lyme Disease. Therefore, a simple tick bite does not necessarily mean you are at risk for contracting Lyme Disease. In this article we will discuss which ticks carry Lyme Disease. In addition, we will be talking about other types of diseases besides Lyme that are carried by ticks and what you need to be aware of if you have been bitten.
There is much debate amongst Lyme Literate Doctors about how to treat Lyme Disease. Some docs are very pro antibiotics others a very against antibiotics. Some doctors think doxycycline works great, other docs do not like it. What makes Lyme Disease treatment so complicated is how different individual to individual responds to various treatment strategies.
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You can find additional information about which ticks carry Lyme Disease at our blog listed below:
Ixodes scapularis (aka the blacklegged deer tick) is the most commonly thought of tick when it comes to Lyme Disease. Yes, this tick will carry Borrelia burgdorferi (the bacteria that causes Lyme), but it may also carry many other diseases. This particular blacklegged deer tick also can carry babesia, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, Powassan virus, Borrelia mayonii and Borrelia miyamotoi.
Dog ticks are also important to be aware of. Dog ticks (aka Dermacentor variabilis) can carry rickettsia rickettsia (rocky mountain spotted fever) as well as Francisella tularensis.
Also of importance is the Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma Americanum). This particular tick may carry Ehrlichia, Fracisella tularensis, heartland virus and STARI. In addition, bites from this tick may cause alpha gal syndrome. With alpha gal syndrome, people develop an allergy to one of the carbohydrates found in red meat. Typically this will lead to a very upset stomach with meat red meat consumption.
The gulf coast tick (amblyomma maculatum) is another tick to be aware of. This tick can carry Ehrlichia as well as Rickettsia chaffeensis.
Rocky Mountain Wood Tick (Dermacentor andersoni) can carry Rickettsia parkeri, Francisella Tularensis and Colorado Tick Virus. The soft tick (ornithodoros hermsi) can carry Borrelia hermsii, Borrelia parkeri, and Borrelia turicatae.
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The point of all of this is to show that while Lyme Disease is not carried by all ticks, that ticks in general carry a variety of diseases. Ticks are motivated to feed on human hosts because they need our blood for nutrition for survival. And in feeding on their hosts, ticks will transmit a variety of diseases, one of which may be Lyme Disease. Lyme Disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia Burgdorferi, Borrelia mayonii, Borellia afzelii and Borrelia garinii. There are many other species of Borrelia, that are not burgdorferi. We mentioned several in this article such as miyamotoi. We are still uncovering a variety of species of Borrelia. While the four species listed may be the only onese that we medically classify as Lyme Disease, these other sister species of Borrelia can still cause many of the same symptoms as Lyme Disease. Even worse, since most common testing for Lyme is only looking at Borrelia Burgdorferi, other species of Borrelia are less talked about and therefore not as commonly tested for, despite their ability to cause diseases.
It is also important to note that ticks can carry disease even when they are in their newborn “nymph” phase. Nymph ticks are substantially tinier than regular ticks and may be the size of a poppy seed. Therefore, they may appear as freckles on the skin to an untrained eye. When looking for ticks after hiking and being outdoors, make sure to consider looking for abnormalities that are much smaller than you might think. And while ticks do go dormant in the dead of cold months. Ticks can handle cold a lot better than many people think. Just because the temperature has hit freezing levels, does not mean that ticks are not still active. If you are outside, beware that tick bites could occur and make it a regular part of your practice to identify them.
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