To begin with, ticks don’t fly, jump or blow around with the wind; these suspects are not ticks. Ticks are slow and lumbering, while spiders are quick and nimble. They are small, very patient and amazing in their capacity to locate their host/prey. Their purpose in life is only to propagate their species and unknowingly pass diseases to those hosts they feed on. They don’t feed often, but when they do, they can acquire disease agents form one host and pass it to another host at a later feeding. Their sensory organs are complex and they can determine trace amounts of gases, such as carbon dioxide left by warm-blooded animals and man. They can sense the potential host’s presence from long distances and even select their ambush site based upon their ability to identify paths that are well traveled.
Understanding the disease potential ticks threaten us with and having the capability to identify the basic tick group will help you present your systems or potential disease issues to your Doctor so that treatment can be initiated.
Although the number of tick species is in the hundreds, there are relatively few ticks that interact with mankind and domestic animals causing harm. While most ticks limit their host selection, others are opportunistic feeders and will feed on almost any accessible host. A tick, which feeds on a select host group, will move infective agents within that group. However, when a tick is a nonselective feeder, it can transmit disease agents from one host group to another. These nonselective ticks pose the largest threat of infection in man.
Ticks generally are not born with disease agents but rather acquire them during various feedings. They then pass the disease on to other animals and mankind during subsequent feedings. When an infection moves from an animal host to a human it is called zoonosise. Lyme disease, babiosisos, erlichiosious and tularemia are examples of such diseases.