Tick infestations have always been a burden to potential pet owners not only because of the trouble they cause cats and dogs but also because of the danger they present to humans. Ticks are known to carry bacteria that can cause Lyme disease in humans, so when they infect our pets, it’s important to make sure we stay safe while treating them. It’s been thought that this bacterium is more common on ticks in the eastern United States; but, a new study performed by the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment has shown that this threat is imminent even in Northern California.
The prevalence of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, is only one of the dangers posed by ticks in Northern California. Another strain of Borrelia bacteria has been discovered on these ticks that might be just as dangerous. Borrelia miyamotoi, was discovered in some of the ticks observed during the experiment. Despite being less common than B. burgdorferi, there is little indication that this strain is any less dangerous.
What They Found
To complete their research, the team collected adult ticks from 12 parks throughout the San Francisco Bay Area across a five-month period in 2012. Sampling 1,180 adult black-legged ticks, the researchers discovered that Borrelia bacteria were present on 3.6% of the ticks with ticks from each area. These results show that the danger of Lyme disease is real, even in California.
The most surprising result, however, was that the presence of B. miyamotoi in these ticks was on par with the presence of B. burgdorferi. These surprising results raise a series of questions about the bacteria and its effects on humans. This bacteria was only recently found to infect humans in the United States, with the first known case of such an incident occurring in 2013.
The symptoms associated with this infection are similar to those caused by Lyme disease. Aside from the general symptoms of headache and a fever, not much is known about how the infection may affect humans. Though it is not suspected to be more contagious than B. burgdorferi, it could be more difficult to diagnose and therefore more dangerous.
Ticks spread these disease-causing bacteria by biting humans, meaning that their spread can be prevented by preventing tick bites. Due to the environment in which most ticks are found, it’s not likely that people will encounter ticks on their own. Humans are often exposed to ticks because they have attached themselves to a pet and must then remove them.
You can keep you and your pet safe, then, by ensuring that they are protected from ticks. There are a wide variety of preventatives and treatments to accomplish this. Preventives such as Sentry can keep your dog free of dangerous pests. Flea and tick sprays are also a great way to keep your yard safe and thus work even better to ward away ticks and the diseases they carry.
Ticks can be a nuisance to your pet but they can also be a serious danger to you and your family. Stay safe by watching out for ticks and ensuring that you and your pet are protected from infestation and bites. How do you and your pets stay safe from ticks? Let us know in the comments!