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 All ticks are capable of spreading disease to humans and animals. As a precaution, all ticks should be treated as if they carry disease. Because ticks are so small, blood has for them the consistency of jello. In order to thin the blood meal so it's easier to suck in, the tick secretes saliva and in so doing may also secrete any disease- carrying bacteria harboring in its gut. This is how Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and other tick-borne illnesses are transmitted. The process of transmitting disease takes hours. Do not panic, but take a few seconds to remove the tick properly. 
   
 
There are approximately 850 different types of ticks known worldwide, falling into two general classifications, Hard Ticks (Ixodidae) and Soft Ticks (Argasidae). While both types of ticks can carry disease, it is the Hard Ticks that are most threat to humans. Soft Ticks are mostly nest parasites, sheltering in burrows, caves or nests and feeding on the host.
 

Hard Tick Hard Ticks are mostly so-called "questing" parasites, climbing on tall grasses and shrubs, and attaching themselves to passing animals by grasping with their extended front legs as the host passes by. While Soft Ticks can live several years, the life span of Hard Ticks varies from less than one year in tropical climates up to three years in cooler environments.
There are three stages of development for a Hard Tick; larva, nymph, and adult. At each stage, a Hard Tick feeds once and then molts to the next stage until it becomes an adult. After feeding once as an adult, the tick mates, a female lays thousands of eggs in one batch, and both male and female ticks die.

 

Common disease carrying ticks in the USA

American Dog Tick

Rocky Mountain Wood Tick

Western Black Legged Tick

The American Dog Tick is the most common carrier of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in the Eastern USA, and is also able to transmit hunter's disease (tularemia). Widespread throughout the USA, and parts of Canada and Mexico, it is also occasionally responsible for tick paralysis. A three host tick, it prefers rodents and similar small animals during its larval and nymph stages, but graduates to dogs and humans as an adult.

The Rocky Mountain Wood Tick is a common carrier of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in northwestern U.S. and Canada, the Colorado tick fever virus, and the bacteria which causes hunter's disease (tularemia). It is also commonly responsible for tick paralysis in humans, livestock, and wild mammals. A three host tick, as a larva and nymph it focuses on rodents, but as an adult prefers deer, dogs and similar animals, livestock, and humans.

The Western Black-Legged Tick is a carrier of Lyme Disease and equine granulocytic ehrlichiosis. Found in Western USA and B.C. A three host tick, it feeds primarily on rodents and lizards in its larval and nymph stages, but prefers large mammals such as deer, dogs, horses, and humans as an adult. Lyme disease is recognized by its distinctive "bulls eye rash." However, other bites from this tick may become inflamed and slow to heal due to an allergic reaction to tick saliva.

The term "three host tick" means the tick transfers hosts each time it feeds, as it molts between feedings and matures.
 

 

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