What State Has the Most Ticks?

Daniel Salkeld is an expert disease ecologist from Marin County in California. On a warm spring day, he trails a white flannel blanket along the coast, pausing every 20 meters to inspect it closely and pluck any ticks from it that attach themselves.

He’s studying ticks to understand why their carrying rates of Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia appear to be on the rise – as human development appears to alter their habitats.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire is well known for its stunning wilderness and outdoor activities, but it also plays host to an abundance of ticks. These bloodsuckers thrive in New Hampshire’s warm temperatures, rainfall and lack of snow cover — ideal conditions for their hatching and adulthood. Of the species prevalent here, deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis) and brown dog ticks (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) pose the greatest danger – both can spread diseases that threaten humans; the deer tick in particular transmit Lyme disease while also transmitting anaplasmosisis Babesiosis Ehrlichiosis or Powassan encephalitis to humans.

Lyme disease in New Hampshire can generally be effectively treated with antibiotics; if you believe you’ve been exposed, seek medical assistance immediately – symptoms include fever, headaches, fatigue and muscle/joint pain.

New Hampshire residents can help researchers track tick populations by submitting ticks to beBop Labs, a free crowdsourcing program which analyzes ticks and their pathogens. Between 2018-2021, 14,252 ticks from across the state were collected for this analysis by beBop Labs; data revealed high infection rates among blacklegged ticks in Hillsborough, Rockingham, Strafford Counties with infection rates near 60% in Belknap Carroll Cheshire Sullivan and Sullivan counties; also examined was Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria associated with Lyme disease while Anaplasma phagocytophilum bacteria can cause flu-like illness with symptoms including headaches chills sweats sweats fatigue and exhaustion.

Virginia

Loudoun County and Virginia residents planning outdoor activities during the coming warmer weather months should be wary that these can pose tick risks. Recent mild winters have helped expand a tick population that carries infectious bacteria such as Lyme disease into new territory, according to CDC data.

The Black-legged or deer tick (Ixodes scapularis) has long been responsible for high instances of tick-borne illness in the Northeast, but has recently spread further south and east thanks to warm temperatures and abundant vegetation. People across several states are reporting higher-than-usual incidences of Lyme disease due to this increased exposure.

Pennsylvania leads in cases of tick-borne illnesses in the North Central region, followed by Indiana and Virginia. Furthermore, Virginia hosts newly-imported Gulf Coast ticks which have the ability to transmit American tick bite fever as well as bacteria which cause symptoms similar to Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

The three most prevalent tick species in this region are Amblyomma americanum), brown dog tick and American dog ticks. Of particular note is the lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum), which transmits pathogens that lead to rash illnesses that are sometimes misdiagnosed as Lyme disease; anaplasmosis ehrlichiosis and tularemia which cause “red meat allergy.” Furthermore, their nymphal stages are especially dangerous, being difficult for people to spot due to being about the size of a poppy seed!

Minnesota

Once the snow melts, ticks emerge from their hiding places in leaves and duff, crawl onto grass, flowers, weeds, stick their arms out to wait for their hosts – something familiar to turkey hunters, mushroom pickers and many other Minnesotans who enjoy outdoor recreation.

Blacklegged ticks – more commonly known as deer ticks in Michigan – are one of the leading carriers of disease, capable of transmitting Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis and Babesiosis. Deer ticks can be found year-round; on warm winter days they tunnel upward through snowbanks in search of hosts.

Researchers are trying to gain a greater understanding of certain patterns, like why certain areas have more ticks than others. Furthermore, they’d like to understand more about how ticks spread and the most effective methods of reducing their numbers; pasture management or managing how tall your grass is are two great tools in doing this.

While most Minnesotans understand the threat posed by blacklegged ticks, another tick has recently appeared in south-central and southeastern states: the lone star tick. This tick can transmit diseases including anaplasmosis and babesiosis and has eight legs with brown to tan hues that look similar to wood ticks; therefore it is essential that individuals can differentiate them.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts is home to three types of ticks: deer ticks, dog ticks and lone star ticks. Deer ticks are the most prevalent in Massachusetts, transmitting Lyme disease. Dog ticks also exist throughout Massachusetts and can carry Lyme as well as several other illnesses including Babesiosis, Spotted Fever Rickettsioses (like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Anaplasmosis), Tularemia and Powassan virus infection.

The lone star tick is found across much of North America, often traveling to areas with large populations of deer or turkeys. They can transmit infections such as ehrlichiosis and tularemia; additionally they play an integral part in spreading new infections known as “Lone Star Disease.”

Massachusetts may have lower overall incidences of tick-borne illnesses compared to other northeastern states; however, its Lyme disease rate remains elevated due to Deer ticks being present year round in Massachusetts and spreading Lyme disease to its residents.

Statewide infestation of Asian longhorned tick has spread rapidly across Eastern North America over recent years. This tick can transmit Theileriosis disease to cattle, leading to blood loss, reduced milk production and an increase in mortality for calves. Furthermore, it has the ability to spread to humans as well as farm animals such as goats, sheep pigs and chickens as well as wild birds.

New Jersey

New Jersey, with its rugged coast, dense forests and farmland terrain is home to an abundance of wildlife. However, New Jersey also ranks among the worst states for tick infestation, with over 130,000 reported cases of Lyme disease, ehrlichia and anaplasma infections in dogs last year alone, according to IDEXX Laboratories.

Garden State wildlife includes native squirrels and Eastern chipmunks as well as an array of invasive species like groundhogs, Virginia opossums, skunks and white-tailed deer. Unfortunately, the region is also threatened by an Asian longhorned tick infestation with red-brown legs which feed on numerous mammals–including humans!

Blacklegged ticks that carry Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria responsible for Lyme disease tend to be most active during spring and summer when temperatures allow nymphs to transform into adult ticks and search for hosts to bite. Unfortunately, this timeframe also coincides with when many people enjoy going to beaches where Lyme disease-carrying ticks can often be found near water bodies.

These pests find hosts by “questing,” an activity in which they climb to the tips of vegetation and stretch their front legs in search of prey. When ticks find one they attach themselves and begin feeding; biting into a host and injecting saliva containing pathogens into his or her bloodstream in this manner – transmitting diseases such as Lyme disease, Babesiosis and more into that host’s system. To protect yourself and your pets from these unwanted visitors use a tick spray that kills ticks upon contact with skin!

New York

New York’s tick population is growing quickly and causing considerable concern among both residents and visitors. Due to an unusually wet and mild winter, ticks carrying diseases like Lyme disease and babesiosis were able to thrive early this spring and are already moving northward through parts of Hudson Valley where one deer tick with Babesiosis was identified.

City residents may encounter several species of ticks, such as American dog ticks, blacklegged deer ticks and lonestar ticks that carry pathogens – including bacteria known to cause Lyme disease – across parks and green spaces across NYC. Blacklegged ticks are most frequently found here and can be found among grass blades, brush piles and trees in parks throughout all five boroughs; Staten Island and Bronx in particular experience an increase in their populations.

Thangamani’s lab is conducting an in-depth monitoring program known as TickMAP(tm). At the end of 2018, they’ll have a more clear idea about where changes are taking place, according to Thangamani.

He recommends New Yorkers wear long pants, shirts and insect repellent when spending time outdoors this summer. People should also avoid brushy, densely wooded areas in favor of clear trails to minimize tick exposure. When venturing outside he suggests conducting full body tick checks promptly.

Lisa Thompson
 

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