Ecologist discusses dangers of a tick bite

GRAND JUNCTION, Tenn. — Tick season is among us.

Forest and Wildlife Ecologist, Dr. Allan Houston says more ticks are around than they’ve seen in 40 years.

“Tick populations have gone up, and that’s probably because deer populations have gone up. From the late part of the 70s, up until now, deer populations have gone up and up. And from a tick’s point of view, that’s just a good meal out there,” Houston said.

Houston says there are four different species that will accept us as host.

“The deer tick is one, and it carries a number of diseases, but it is the one that spreads align. The good old dog tick, it’s been here forever. The Gulf Coast tick, pretty new for us here, but it will accept humans,” Houston said. “Probably the worst amongst all of them is the lone star tick.”

Houston says the dangers of getting infected with one of these ticks is high.

“They carry bacterial loads, they carry viruses, they carry protozoan, neurotoxins. The one that’s mostly perhaps a concern is meat allergy disease,” Houston said.

That disease is the aftermath of a tick exposing you to protean that makes your body reactive to red meat. In most cases, you won’t have immediate symptoms.

“Maybe six months later, long after you’ve forgotten the tick bite. Maybe one night you have a meal of a steak, and then maybe three or four hours after, you get the hives and start itching,” Houston said.

Houston says some ticks even cause temporary paralyzation. He says in most cases you will not be able to feel if you have been bitten.

“You’ll have a spot. Hopefully, you’ll find the tick before it has been there very long and you’ll get it off. So that means search, search, search,” Houston said.

Houston says the most common places to receive a tick bite are wooded areas, forests, and any place with tall weeds and grasses.

Houston says if you feel you’ve had a tick on you for a long time, save it once you remove it by putting it in a vile of 70% ethanol.

You can have the DNA tested to see if it carries a disease.

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