Why Ticks Are Dangerous to New York Residents and Pets

tick up close

The tick populations in New York continue to rise. And in our Albany service area, we're almost at ground zero for Lyme disease. Well, sort of. It is believed by many that Lyme disease began in Lyme, Connecticut but that is actually just where it was identified. Lyme disease has been around for a long time, perhaps since the beginning of time, but that can’t be confirmed. But understanding why this disease is such a serious threat is key to understanding why these ticks are so dangerous to New York residents and their pets.

Recently, a team of researchers from Yale were able to sequence the full genome of the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacterium is what causes Lyme disease in humans. Their findings revealed that B. burgdorferi has not evolved into a new and more deadly bacteria over time. It is the same as it has ever been. So then what is causing the concentration and spread of Lyme disease throughout the Eastern United States? Those researchers believe it has to do with forest fragmentation and an increase in deer populations over the last century. These conditions have created the perfect ecosystem for ticks and this bacterium to thrive.

When the U.S. converted from an agricultural nation into an industrial nation, farmlands were converted to forests and ticks began to thrive. But those ticks have since spread out. With the massive deforestation and urbanization that has happened in the last half-century, ticks and the animals they use as hosts have been condensed into small forested areas. This has given this bacterium the perfect breeding ground.

Tick diseases have exploded in suburban landscapes because ticks can quickly travel from these densely packed breeding grounds into our yards by using birds as hosts. They can also be carried into our yards by mice, rodents, and other wildlife animals. Homes that are bordered by wooded areas are at an even greater risk for exposure to tick-borne illnesses.

While we've been focusing on Lyme disease in this article, all tick-borne diseases have thrived in this fragmented urban forest environment. When these animals enter our yards from these wooded areas, they can introduce a variety of ticks that have the potential to transmit disease including black-legged ticks, American dog ticks, lone star ticks, and any other ticks they are carrying into your yard.

Both humans and our pets are at risk of contracting tick-borne diseases. With tick exposure in our area being so common, it is important for New York residents to learn to recognize the conditions that allow ticks to live in our yards and to identify the symptoms of the diseases they carry.

Ticks need moisture in order to survive. If they drop off of an animal in your yard, they will move to a moist, shaded location. The landscaping near a home is a very common hiding place for ticks. In this safe location, they will lie in wait for a new host. While you are tending to your landscaping, be aware that you can pick up a tick out there as well as in other similar locations around your property

The diseases spread by ticks are quite varied. Initial symptoms can include fatigue, a fever, and a rash. As these diseases develop, it can lead to more serious flu-like symptoms including muscle aches and vomiting. Some tick-borne diseases can develop to a chronic stage and lead to lifelong health issues for you or your pets.

The most common diseases spread by ticks in our service area are Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, tularemia, encephalitis, bartonellosis, and anaplasmosis. Some of these illnesses don’t affect our dogs and cats in the same way they affect us. This is important to keep in mind. For instance, bartonellosis can make you very sick while your cat may only experience a mild fever for a few days from this illness. In a recent news story, an Ohio woman woke up blind in one eye because her cat had contracted Bartonella henselae, also known as cat scratch disease, and transmitted it to her by licking her near her eye. Luckily, the physician diagnosing her made the link and the illness was caught and treated in time. But it doesn't always happen that way. Sometimes tick-borne diseases are not caught and they worsen to an untreatable state, such is the case with Lyme disease.

Tick populations and the tick-borne diseases are on the rise in New York and they are becoming more and more dangerous to us and our pets every day. By learning to recognize tick illnesses, keeping the moisture levels and shade to a minimum in your yard, taking precautions when you go into wooded areas, and investing in professional tick reduction services for your yard, you can help protect yourself, your family members, and your pets from the threat of tick-borne diseases. To learn more about our tick box tick control and mosquito & tick control services, reach out to us at Thomas Pest Services!

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