The lone star tick is on the radar of disease control experts. Find out why.
The lone star tick is a known carrier of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and that could mean serious trouble.
F. Scott Dahlgren, epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that unless Rocky Mountain spotted fever is treated within the first five days, the likely hood of death skyrockets.
Since 2000, the frequency of Rocky Mountain spotted fever occurrences has soared to around eight times the previous likelihood. However, the number of people who were hospitalized or died from this disease decreased drastically, according to NPR.org.
The increase in frequency but decrease in seriousness had epidemiologists questioning everything they knew about the serious disease. Questions began to be asked about the severity of the disease, or if there were possible issues with the diagnostic testings completed.
The illness is most commonly caused by different types of bacteria that live in and are carried by American dog ticks. However, for many years now, a new kind of tick has been expanding its range – the lone star tick.
Dahlgren says that “The lone start tick is a very, very aggressive biter.”
The lone star tick is typically found associated with whitetail deer. The Southeast’s warm winters and growing deer population provided the perfect opportunity for this tick to take charge.
It is said that this is the most commonly encountered tick in the Southeast and Northeast regions of the country.
As Dahlgren and his team continued their research, they began to question if the lone start tick perhaps affected the disease differently than previous tick types. They found that the lone start tick carries a unique type of bacteria. While similar to the bacteria causing Rocky Mountain spotted fever, this new bacteria is said to possibly affect humans differently.
It is now understood that these “less severe” versions of Rock Mountain spotted fever may have not eve been Rocky Mountain spotted fever, but a different disease all together.
While this may seem like a positive bit of information, less deaths caused by the disease, it is still important to focus on this new illness, its cause, and its potential future.