Paranormal researchers and investigators can wind up in some pretty remote areas especially those in search of cryptids or who enjoy investigating overgrown, rundown building and cemeteries. When in these areas there are all kinds of things to look out for other than what you are searching for. Critters, snakes, spiders and ticks.
Today I want to discuss ticks and tick borne illnesses. When most of us hear ticks we think of Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. There are actually a total of 14 tick borne illnesses that can affect humans. I will give a brief outline of these illnesses and then discuss precautions that should be taken when investigating areas where ticks can be encountered.
Anaplasmosis – Caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagoctophilum and primarily carried by the black-legged(deer) tick in the northeastern and upper midwestern US and the western black-legged tick along the pacific coast.
Babesiosis- Caused by microscopic parasites that infect red blood cells. Mostly occurs in parts of the Northeast and Upper Midwest and usually peaks during warm months. Is carried by the nymph stage of the black-legged(deer) tick.
Borrelia miyamotoi- A spiral-shaped bacteria that is closely related to the bacteria causing tick-borne relapsing fever and more distantly related to the bacteria causing Lyme disease. It is carried by the black-legged (deer) tick and western black-legged tick.
Colorado Tick Fever- A virus causing chills, fever, headache and body aches. There are no medications to treat it. Occurs in the Rocky Mountain states at elevations of 4000 to 10,500 feet. Carried by the Rocky Mountain wood tick.
Ehrlichiosis- A bacterial disease causing fever, headache, musle aches and fatigue. Occurs primarily in southcentral and eastern states. Carried by the lone star tick (Ambylomma americanum).
Heartland Virus- Since it was first described in 2012 has only been found in Tennessee and Missouri. Symptoms of this virus include fever, chills, body aches, nausea, vomitting ,diarrhea and loss of appetite. Causes a loss of cells that fight infection and help blood clot. Carried by the lone star tick.
Lyme disease- Caused by the bacteriu Borrelia burfdorferi. One of the most well known tick-borne illnesses. Carried by the black-legged (deer) tick in the northeastern and upper midwestern and the western black-legged tick along the pacific coast.
Powassan disease-An infection that can cause fever, headache, vomiting, weakness , confusion, seizures and other neurological problems including swelling of the brain. Occurs in the Northeast and Great Lakes region. Carried by the black-legged(deer) tick and the groundhog tick.
Rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis- A type of spotted fever. Various forms of this fever can occur all over the United States as well as internationally. Carried by the Gulf Coast tick.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever- Caused by the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii and is potentially fatal. Occurs all over the United States as well as South and Central America. Carried by the American dog tick, the Rocky Mountain wood tick and the brown dog tick.
STARI(Southern tick-associated rash illness)- A rash similar to the rash of Lyme disease which may be accompanied by fatigue, fever,headache, muscle and joint pains. Occurs in the southeastern and eastern states. Carried by the lone star tick.
Tickborne relapsing fever- Bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Borrelia spirochetes. Characterized by recurring episodes of fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and nausea. Occurs in 15 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Carried by soft ticks.
Tularemia- Infection that can be fatal but can generally be sucessfully treated successfully with antibiotics. Occurs throughout the United States. Is carried by the dog tick, the wood tick and the lone star tick.
364D rickettsiosis- A spotted fever virus. Only reported in California at this time. Carried by the pacific coast tick.
Tickborne illnesses can be reduced or prevented by taking proper precautions when entering potentially tick infested areas. Try to avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter. Walk in the center of paths and trails.
Use repellents that contain 20 to 30% DEET on exposed skin and clothing. Use products that contain permethrin on clothing.Treat clothing such as boots, socks and pants. Treat gear like packs, sleeping bags and tents.
Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors. This will wash off any ticks crawling on you and help find any that may have attached. Do a full body check with a hand mirror or full length wall mirror.
Check clothing and gear. Ticks can hitch a ride on these things and attach to you later. Tumble clothing in the dryer on high heat for 30 mins to an hour to kill any ticks hiding in the cloth.
Following these basic suggestions can greatly reduce your risk of contracting one of the above listed tickborne illnesses.
Preventing tick bites. (2015, June 1). Retrieved August 31, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/avoid/on_people.html