About a third of mature ticks carry some sort of disease, or more in some areas. The most famous and common disease remains Lyme disease, which was first identified in Connecticut in the 1970’s. Researches are warily watching an expanding caseload for two tick-related conditions: anaplasmosis and babesiosis. Antibiotics and other drugs are effective in most cases, if caught early enough, but both conditions can cause serious illness, even death. Bites from ticks infected with Lyme usually result in a telltale rash, often shaped like a bull-eye; bites from ticks infected with anaplasmosis do not.
Researches have also found more ticks carrying a bacterium, borrelia miyamotoi, which can cause a disease that resembles tick-borne relapsing fever, linked to backwoods, parasite-infested cabins.
Experts say that a few newcomers have now been found in the U.S. That includes the Asian long-horned tick, an interloper that has a nifty reproductive trick- parthenogenesis- whereby females can reproduce without mating with males, and these ticks have the horrifying habit of attacking en masse, sometimes bleeding cattle to death.
Safety measures to avoid ticks include wearing light-colored clothing, long pants tucked into socks, using tick repellent, and doing frequent tick checks. They are wimpy little creatures; they don’t crawl very far or very fast, they don’t fly, they don’t hop but if we make spring come earlier and winter later, then we give them the gift of time.