Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows an increase in tick invasion among West Virginia residents for several years. The Department of Health further establishes that the highest density of ticks in West Virginia peaks during summer and spring.
Types of Ticks Exist in West Virginia
Multiple types of ticks are commonly present in West Virginia. However, not all the species of ticks are present in all areas within this state. Some tick species have pathogens that cause infection and diseases.
The following four tick species are commonly found in West Virginia:
- The American dog tick
- The lone star tick
- The deer tick
- The brown tick
1. The American Dog Tick
The American dog tick is known as the Dermacentor variabilis and are commonly found in many areas of West Virginia. It is a carrier of the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF).
The tick measures about 6 mm long and has a stout pointed mouth. The American dog tick is male and female; the adult male tick has light wavy lines while the female one is dark brown and has white stripes.
2. Lonestar tick
The Lone Star tick is called Amblyomma americanum, is common throughout the state of West Virginia. It is also found on the east side of the Blue Ridge mountains region.
The lone star is also a potential carrier of the RMSF. It measures 5 mm and is light with a brownish color and a white spot on the female specie. The male specie has white markings on its back.
3. The Deer Tick (black-legged tick)
The Deer tick is called Ixodes scapularis and is a small species of tick measuring 3 mm. It has dark legs, and the body is white and red; when it’s fully fed, the body becomes entirely red.
It is also known as the black-legged tick and is a potential carrier of Lyme disease. Studies have also shown that the deer tick transmits ehrlichiosis.
4. Brown Dog Tick
The Brown Tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, measures about 5 mm and has stout pointed mouthparts. It has a dark red-brown color with no markings.
The brown tick is not yet known as a transmitter of diseases in West Virginia. The tick is said to be present in the state, but it is uncommon compared to the other ticks.
5. Asian Longhorned Tick
The Asian Longhorned tick, also known as the Haemaphysalis longicornis has been found in both Virginia and West Virginia in the last few years since 2018. It measures 3 mm long and has short pointed mouthparts. It is reddish-brown and it’s unknown whether or not this tick spreads diseases at this time.
The prevalence of ticks within West Virginia calls for residents to take precautions to protect themselves against the dangerous pests that cause dangerous diseases. The following measures are recommended:
Prevention Measures to Avoid the Spread of Ticks
The Department of Health recommends the following to prevent the spread of ticks:
- Keep grass mowed, cut, and thinned
- Avoid areas that are tick-infested, such as dense vegetation and tall grass
- Walk carefully on center trails and avoid brushing yourself against grass and weeds.
- Conduct frequent tick checks on children and pets several times when spending time outdoors.
- Tuck your pant legs into socks, so ticks do not mount on your pants.
- Wear light-colored clothing that quickly shows when ticks attempt to climb on you.
- Use tick repellants with at least 30% DEET and eucalyptus oil.
- Treat your lawn often with pesticides to control tick invasion.
- Treat your clothes with permethrin treatment and adhere to all instructed precautions.
How Do Ticks Spread Diseases?
When a tick is attached to a human for about four to six hours, it transmits RMSF to the human. The first noticeable symptoms are fever, headache, muscle ache, chills, nausea, flu-like symptoms, and vomiting.
The symptoms start exhibiting themselves two to twelve days after being bitten by a tick. By the third day after a tick bite, a person will experience red rashes on the ankles and wrists.
The rash may spread to the entire foot or hand. A blood test confirms the presence of the disease, and the person has been prescribed antibiotics for treatment.
How Do You Remove Ticks?
Most species of ticks can be removed using tweezers or plucking the tick from the skin using your fingers and the help of a piece of tissue. When pulling the tick using a tissue, ensure to grasp the tick closer to the skin to avoid leaving the tick’s mouth parts in the affected region.
Do not twist the tick around to avoid leaving its mouthparts in the wound. Don’t use alcohol, nail polish, or hot matches to remove ticks. After removing the tick, wash the affected area with an antiseptic. Kill the tick by rubbing it in alcohol and watch out for any symptoms of tick diseases within the next few days or weeks.