Fleas and ticks not only bring annoying red bites that itch like crazy, but they can also be hosts for many serious diseases. By opting for flea and tick spray this summer, you can prevent these six horrible illnesses from infecting you, your family, and your pets.
6 Diseases Carried By Fleas And Ticks
Flea-borne (murine) Typhus
Flea-borne (murine) typhus is caused by the bacteria Rickettsia Typhi. Unlike many diseases, which directly result from the bite, this disease infects when flea poop, also called flea dirt, gets in the open wound created by their bite – not from saliva in the bite. Humans can also contract this disease if they breathe in flea dirt or rub it into their eyes. Thankfully, this disease cannot spread from person to person. It’s typically rare in the US, but it could become more common as the climate gets warmer. Typically, flea-borne typhus manifests about two weeks after initial contact. Signs and symptoms may include:
- Fever and chills
- Body aches and muscle pain
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach pain
- Rash (typically occurs around day 5 of illness)
Severe illness is rare, and most people recover completely. However, the untreated disease can cause severe illness and damage to organs, including the liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, and brain.
Most adults don’t have to worry about tapeworm, but it’s a concern for pets and children. Pets become infected by accidentally swallowing a flea infected with the tapeworm larvae. This can happen quite easily. If an infected flea bites your pet, it will often bite at the skin to relieve the itch and may swallow the flea. Once the flea is digested, the larval tapeworm will develop into an adult tapeworm. When your dog or cat is infected, the adult worms form bodies that have segments. These segments can break off into the digestive tract and pass during bowel movements. These segments, called proglottids, contain eggs so the worms can release their young into the environment. The risk of infection is lower in humans, but children are more likely to put things in their mouths, so they may accidentally ingest an infected flea. Signs of tapeworms in pets and humans include objects that look like rice in the stool.
B. miyamotoi Disease
Borrelia miyamotoi is a type of spiral-shaped bacteria closely related to the bacteria that cause tick-borne relapsing fever (TBRF). It is more distantly related to the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Originally identified in ticks from Japan, B. miyamotoi has since been detected in two types of North American ticks: the blacklegged or “deer” tick and the Western blacklegged tick. These ticks are already known to spread diseases like Lyme disease and anaplasmosis. Like other tick-borne illnesses, the symptoms of B. miyamotoi disease include fever, chills, headache, body and joint pain, and fatigue. Some patients may develop a rash, though this is not as common as the other symptoms.
Currently, only Lone Star ticks are known to transmit this virus, which belongs to the genus Bandavirus. It is not known at this time if other tick species can spread it as well. It takes its name from the fact that it affects the heartland region of the central US. Once infected, patients experience fever, fatigue, decreased appetite, headache, nausea, diarrhea, and muscle or joint pain. Many people are hospitalized as a result of this virus. It can actually affect the white blood cell count, causing it to go low in numbers, increasing the likelihood of infection. White blood cells help your body fight off sickness and infection, so you could be more susceptible to illness if you contract the Heartland virus. It can also lower the platelet count, which means that your blood will not clot as easily if you are cut. This virus can also affect how the liver functions and increase liver enzymes. Like many tick-borne illnesses, it could take up to two weeks for the symptoms to appear.
Tularemia is a disease that can infect animals and people. Rabbits, hares, and rodents are especially susceptible. While tick bites are one of the leading causes, humans can also contract this disease through skin contact with infected animals, drinking contaminated water, or even inhaling aerosols, agriculture dust, or landscaping dust that contains the bacteria. This disease is tricky, and reactions can be mild or life-threatening. Once infected, patients will have a fever, regardless of a mild or severe form of the illness. The most common way tularemia exhibits symptoms is a skin ulcer at the site where the bacteria entered the body. In addition to the ulcer, you will experience swelling of lymph glands, usually in the armpit or groin. If left untreated, the bacteria can travel through the bloodstream to the lungs.
Undoubtedly, this is the tick-borne illness you’re most familiar with. It’s the most common vector-borne disease in the United States. Caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and, rarely, Borrelia mayonii. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. If left untreated, the infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system and result in lifelong health problems. If caught early, a strong round of antibiotics can wipe it out. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. In the first three to 30 days after the tick bite, you may experience the following:
- Muscle and joint aches
- Swollen lymph nodes may occur in the absence of rash
- A bullseye red ring around the bite that spreads. This rash can reach 12 inches in diameter and may feel warm but not usually itchy
If left untreated, later signs and symptoms may include:
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness
- Additional rashes on other areas of the body
- Facial palsy (loss of muscle tone or droopy facial muscles)
- Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees and other large joints.
- Intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
- Irregular heartbeat or palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
- Shooting pain, numbness, or tingling of hands and feet
Why Tick Spray Is So Crucial
At this time, there are no preventative vaccines for things like Lyme disease. Therefore, the absolute best way to protect yourself, your pets, and your family from the horrors of a flea or tick bite is through a professionally applied flea and tick control spray. This will kill fleas and ticks from the eggs to adults. This is especially important if you have a property near a wooded area. Fleas and ticks lurk in places like the undersides of decks and porches, tall grass, and wooded areas. So even if you don’t let your dog run through the woods, fleas and ticks could be hiding in plain sight right in your own backyard.
Protect Yourself With Pest Control Services Near Kansas City
When you’re proactive about flea and tick control, you won’t have to worry about any of those nasty diseases. That’s why Quality All-Care Lawn Services provides pest control services. Our flea and tick control program targets these two common pests before they have a chance to hurt you, your family, or your pets. Speak with an expert today! Call (913) 914-8895 or leave us a message online to learn more about this popular service. And don’t forget to check out our blog page to read more about lawn care and pest control.