What You Need to Know About Ticks and Lyme Disease

What You Need to Know About Ticks and Lyme Disease
With summer winding down and school starting to get back in session, we hope you had a season full of sunshine and memories. Our Bug Bite Thing team followed along as many of you showed us on social media that it was spent outdoors, filled with travel, beach days, pool hangs and hiking. While you’re out there exploring or getting some R&R, we just hope you were also protecting yourself by protecting your skin.
Because as much as we enjoy summer, it seems the bugs do, too. First, the mosquito-borne illness, dengue fever, was reported in Florida. Now, we’re hearing that these past few months have been some of the worst in history when it comes to ticks, too.
Cases of the tick-borne illness, Lyme disease, have nearly doubled in the United States since 2000, affecting almost 500,000 people annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You may have heard about Lyme through model and influencer, Bella Hadid, who recently spoke about her struggle with it. Hadid’s mother has also discussed her own challenges linked to Lyme disease, as have Justin Bieber, Amy Schumer, Alex Baldwin and Shania Twain.
It is important to stay vigilant against the tiny – but potentially dangerous – pests that transmit these illnesses. To give you a leg up on these eight-legged creatures, let’s play a game of Tick “True or False.” Here are 10 things you need to know about ticks and Lyme:
Ticks are insects. – FALSE
1. Ticks are insects. – FALSE

I hope you got this one correct, if only because of the hint in the paragraph above! Ticks have four pairs of legs and are classified as arachnids, making them more closely related to spiders and scorpions than bees or beetles.
Ticks need blood to survive. – TRUE
2. Ticks need blood to survive. – TRUE

Ticks are like real-life vampires, but much less enticing than those from Twilight. They embed their hypostome – a sword-like body part with inverted barbs – into the skin, which enables them to remain attached while they feed. Humans are not actually ticks’ preferred food source, but they will still latch onto a person walking by when they’re looking for a meal. Otherwise, different types of ticks prefer the blood of different animals, such as deer, birds, dogs, rodents and foxes.
All ticks carry disease. – FALSE
3. All ticks carry disease. – FALSE 

There are known to be around 900 species of ticks across the planet, with about 90 species identified in the U.S. Here’s the good news: Most ticks do not carry any disease. The national average is around 10-20%. There are only two types of ticks that spread Lyme disease: the black-legged tick and western black-legged tick, which are commonly known as deer ticks. They can carry the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, which spreads to humans through their bites. These types of ticks are widespread across the United States and can be found in all 50 states, but the majority of those carrying this bacterium are found within only 15 states in the Midwest and northeastern U.S. 
Lyme disease is not the only threat from ticks – TRUE
4. Lyme disease is not the only threat from ticks – TRUE

Other types of ticks can transmit other tick-borne illnesses, as they expose us to different pathogens. Some of these bacteria can be even more dangerous than those which cause Lyme disease. For instance, Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be contracted from the American dog tick and brown dog tick.
Ticks don’t fly.  – TRUE
5. Ticks don’t fly.  – TRUE

Another way that ticks differ from mosquitoes is that they do not fly, as they have no wings, but they do not jump like fleas, either. The way ticks move is called “questing,” in which they hold onto a blade of grass or leaf with their back pairs of legs while waving their front legs before waiting for someone or something to walk by to grab onto. From there, they climb up the host to find a good spot, which can take anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours. They typically look for thinner skin or dark, moist areas, such as armpits, behind ears or between toes.
Tick bites don’t usually hurt. – TRUE
6. Once a tick attaches, they immediately begin infecting the host. – FALSE 

It is a common misconception that ticks infect humans and animals with Lyme disease as soon as they bite. Ticks must be attached for at least 24 hours (usually 36-48 hours) before they can transmit the bacteria and disease. This is why frequent checks to find and remove ticks is so crucial. If a person spots a tick and removes it promptly and effectively with a Bug Bite Thing Tick Remover, nearly all risk is removed.
Once a tick attaches, they immediately begin infecting the host. – FALSE
7. Tick bites don’t usually hurt. – TRUE 

In most cases, ticks are so small at the time of the bite that humans do not feel it. They grow larger the longer they feed, so they may not be noticeable at first bite. Even the symptoms of Lyme disease initially seem minor, which can include a bullseye rash that gets warm and grows in size, but is usually painless, too. Again, regular checks are so important if you are spending time outdoors in areas that are known to have ticks.
Mechanical removal is the only safe and effective way to remove a tick. – TRUE
8. Mechanical removal is the only safe and effective way to remove a tick. – TRUE
Burning a tick with a match or coating it with nail polish is never a good idea. There are many incorrect ways to remove a tick circulating online, so it is important to understand how to handle one properly. The Bug Bite Thing Tick Remover is the only patented, two-sided and fine-tipped tweezers created expressly for the removal of embedded ticks and meets CDC guidelines. We have some simple steps on the blog that explain proper tick removal. If you’ve been bitten and it was attached for more than 24 hours, monitor your symptoms and call your physician.
Lyme disease is a chronic illness. – FALSE
9. Lyme disease is a chronic illness. – FALSE 

Early symptoms of Lyme disease are fever, fatigue, chills, joint aches and rashes, but when treated properly, they typically last around three to 30 days. If untreated, Lyme can impact the heart, joints and nervous system leading to neck stiffness, joint pain, facial paralysis, numbness in hands and feet and short-term memory challenges. All that being said, if it’s diagnosed early, which requires a blood test, it can be treated with antibiotics and most people recover within a few weeks to six months. Unfortunately, when left untreated, symptoms can last for years. There is also a small amount of people who experience Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS), which is thought to be caused by an auto-immune response, but they are also expected to get better over time.
Pets can be affected by ticks, too. – TRUE
10. Pets can be affected by ticks, too. – TRUE 

You don’t just need to protect yourself from ticks, as your furry friends can be affected, too. Last year, nearly 425,000 dogs were diagnosed with tick-borne diseases in the U.S. Keep an eye on pets and conduct regular checks after outdoor time to ensure your animals remain healthy.
With all of this information, we hope you can see that ticks are pests, but they are manageable. We want you to feel free without fear to take your hikes and play with your pets in those open fields. Get a Bug Bite Thing Tick Remover, as well as our original Bug Bite Thing Suction Tool, today to have more confidence in your next outing.

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