In West Virginia, residents are facing an increasing invasion of ticks, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With summer and spring being the peak seasons for these pests, it is important to be aware of the different types of ticks found in the state. This article from Wildlife Informer highlights five common tick species in West Virginia, including the American dog tick, lone star tick, deer tick, brown tick, and Asian longhorned tick. Each tick species is described along with pictures, providing readers with valuable information to identify and protect themselves against these dangerous pests. The article also offers prevention measures to avoid tick bites and discusses how ticks spread diseases. Overall, it serves as a comprehensive guide for West Virginia residents to stay informed and take necessary precautions to protect themselves and their families.
Types of Ticks Exist in West Virginia
West Virginia residents have been experiencing an increase in tick invasion in recent years, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Department of Health states that the density of ticks in West Virginia is highest during the summer and spring seasons. There are several types of ticks commonly found in West Virginia, each with its own characteristics and potential for transmitting diseases.
1. The American Dog Tick
The American dog tick, scientifically known as Dermacentor variabilis, is commonly found in many areas of West Virginia. This tick is a carrier of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), a potentially serious illness. The adult male tick has light wavy lines, while the female tick is dark brown with white stripes. It measures about 6 mm in length and has a stout pointed mouth.
2. Lonestar tick
The Lonestar tick, also known as Amblyomma americanum, is widespread throughout West Virginia. It can also be found on the east side of the Blue Ridge Mountains region. This tick is a potential carrier of RMSF as well. It has a brownish color and measures about 5 mm in length. The female specie has a distinctive white spot, and the male specie has white markings on its back.
3. The Deer Tick (black-legged tick)
The Deer tick, scientifically known as Ixodes scapularis, is a small tick measuring about 3 mm. It is commonly referred to as the black-legged tick due to its dark legs. The body of the tick is white and red, which turns entirely red when it is fully fed. This tick is a potential carrier of Lyme disease and has also been found to transmit ehrlichiosis.
4. Brown Dog Tick
The Brown Dog tick, scientifically known as Rhipicephalus sanguineus, is present in West Virginia but is less common compared to other tick species. It measures about 5 mm and has stout pointed mouthparts. The tick has a dark red-brown color with no markings. Currently, it is not known to transmit diseases in West Virginia.
5. Asian Longhorned Tick
The Asian Longhorned tick, also known as Haemaphysalis longicornis, has been found in both Virginia and West Virginia since 2018. Its presence is relatively recent, and it measures about 3 mm in length. This tick is reddish-brown, and it is currently unknown whether or not it spreads diseases.
With the prevalence of ticks in West Virginia, it is crucial for residents to take precautions to protect themselves against these pests and the potential diseases they can transmit.
Prevention Measures to Avoid the Spread of Ticks
To prevent the spread of ticks, the Department of Health recommends the following measures:
- Keep grass mowed, cut, and thinned to reduce tick habitat.
- Avoid areas that are known to be tick-infested, such as dense vegetation and tall grass.
- When walking in outdoor areas, stay on center trails and avoid brushing against grass and weeds.
- Conduct frequent tick checks on children and pets after spending time outdoors.
- Tuck pant legs into socks to prevent ticks from crawling up.
- Wear light-colored clothing that makes it easier to spot ticks.
- Use tick repellents with at least 30% DEET and eucalyptus oil.
- Treat your lawn regularly with pesticides to control tick populations.
- Treat your clothes with permethrin treatment according to instructions.
By following these prevention measures, residents can reduce their risk of tick bites and the potential transmission of diseases.
How Do Ticks Spread Diseases?
Ticks can spread diseases when they attach themselves to a human or animal host. When a tick is attached to a human for around four to six hours, it can transmit diseases such as RMSF. The first symptoms of tick-borne diseases typically include fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, nausea, flu-like symptoms, and vomiting. These symptoms usually appear two to twelve days after a tick bite.
One notable symptom of RMSF is the development of red rashes on the ankles and wrists by the third day after a tick bite. The rash may spread to the entire foot or hand. If a person suspects they have been bitten by a tick and are experiencing symptoms, a blood test can confirm the presence of the disease. Treatment usually involves antibiotics.
How Do You Remove Ticks?
If a tick is found attached to the skin, it should be promptly and carefully removed. Most species of ticks can be removed using tweezers or by plucking the tick from the skin with your fingers and the help of a piece of tissue. It is essential to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible to avoid leaving the tick’s mouthparts behind.
Do not twist the tick when removing it, as this can cause the tick’s mouthparts to break off and remain in the wound. It is also not recommended to use alcohol, nail polish, or hot matches to remove ticks, as these methods may not effectively remove the tick and can potentially cause harm.
After removing the tick, the affected area should be washed with an antiseptic. It is important to monitor the area for any symptoms of tick-borne diseases within the next few days or weeks.