Do Male Deer Ticks Carry Lyme Disease

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Male deer ticks behave like any other tick; but do male deer ticks carry Lyme disease? Research has revealed they have little ability to transmit Lyme disease. The deer ticks, also known as black-legged ticks, are known for their notorious biting and the dark legs. Their preferred hosts are usually whitetail deer, hence the name deer tick. However, deer ticks can also attach to humans. They are tiny in size, and thus it might take time before you realize they’ve stuck on your body. 

The male deer ticks are slightly smaller than the female ones. They both don’t have hard-shelled bodies. Their bodies are flat and oval. Male deer ticks have a reddish-brown color, different from the female ones that bear an orange-brown color. The female deer ticks become reddish-brown after feeding on a host.

Male Deer Ticks and Lyme Disease

Multiple species of deer carry Lyme disease. But according to research, male deer ticks are non-vectors of Lyme disease. Like the other female ticks, male deer ticks appear to attach to a host but do not suck blood. This means without sucking on blood; the ticks cannot transmit Lyme disease. Only the adult female deer ticks are responsible for the transmission of the disease.

Lyme Disease and How Deer Ticks transmit it

Female Deer ticks are known to be transmitters of the bacteria causing Lyme disease. The disease was first discovered in the United States in the 1970s, in Lyme, Connecticut. Four main sets of bacteria cause it. The disease has always been misdiagnosed due to the semblance of its symptoms with other bacterial infections. 

The common misconception about the Lyme disease usually lies in how it’s caused. Deer ticks only act as vectors for the disease.  They carry the disease and transmit it, but they do not cause it. Occasionally the Deer ticks carry the bacteria from an infected animal onto the human body. The bacteria find their way into the body when the tick starts sucking blood, which may take quite some time.

Deer ticks will attach themselves to a chipmunk or any other animal as they suck their blood. Some of these animals already have the bacteria which causes Lyme disease; hence the tick becomes infected in the process. The condition is thus spread if the tick later attaches to you.  The tick will only transmit Lyme disease if they come from a high-risk area and be attached to your body for more than 36 hours.

Deer ticks feed on different animal species. They commonly feed on mice, birds, dogs, goats, chipmunks, white-tailed deer, shrews, and cattle. However, only a few of these animals carry and transmit the Lyme disease to a blood-sucking tick. Mice, birds, and shrews are among the animals known to transmit the disease to deer ticks. Lyme disease-carrying ticks mostly thrive in grassy and heavily wooded areas.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Lyme disease, when left untreated, can have multiple symptoms. These symptoms vary depending on the stages of infection. Some of the common symptoms in its early stages of infections include;

The appearance of a rash usually from three to 30 days after an infected tick bite. The rash manifests as an expanding red area on your arm.  After some time, it will clear in the center resulting in a bull’s-eye pattern. The rash neither itches nor pains, but instead feels warm to the touch.

The other symptoms likely to be experienced in the early days are fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, headache, stiffness of the neck, and swollen lymph nodes. All of these accompany the rash.

Over a prolonged time of infection, the disease results in Erythema migrans. This means the rash starts to appear on other parts of the body as the bacteria spreads. Joint pains may start shifting from one joint to another. The problems get severe, with some swelling that may affect your knees.

The disease may also lead to the inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain, causing neurological problems.  Temporary paralysis, numbness, and impaired muscle movement are also common long term symptoms of Lyme disease.

Other Diseases Associated with Deer Ticks

Deer ticks not only transmit Lyme disease but are also vectors for other bacterial infections. These bacterial co-infections include Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, and Tularemia. Deer ticks attach to different parts of the human body, such as groin, armpits, and scalp.

Immature ticks, usually called nymphs are the known super-spreaders of bacterial diseases. They are tiny hence difficult to see.  Although adult ticks also transmit Lyme disease bacteria, their relatively larger size makes them likely to be discovered and removed from the body before transmitting the bacteria.

Therefore, it’s safe for everyone to be on the lookout and never disregard the hazardous potential on any deer tick. Some ticks are harmless, but their bites can still damage your skin. Avoid heavily wooded areas as they are likely to be deer prone.

Deer Ticks vs Wood Ticks: What is the Difference?

Walking in the woods, you’ll find a variety of ticks. However, our focus is on the deer ticks and wood ticks that possess very slight variations. These two sets of ticks are also known to be primary carriers of Lyme disease, among other diseases. Both the two have bites that can affect your skin. Their differences include;

Deer and wood ticks both have U-shaped backs. The coloring of their lower back region is what differentiates them from one another. A deer tick has a reddish lower back, while a wood tick has a black lower back. Always be keen to note this big difference

They have different sizes. However, it should be noted the size of a tick depends on whether or not they’ve eaten. Wood ticks are close to three-sixteenth inches long before feeding. Their size increases after a single blood suck. The female wood tick’s silver-colored spot behind the head also increases to one-half-inch long after feeding. A deer tick is only one-eighth inches long. Their size doesn’t change as much, even after feeding. 

Deer ticks are primary carriers of Lyme disease. Wood ticks, on the other hand, are the primary vectors of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. However, both the two sets of ticks can transmit other serious diseases. 

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