All creepy crawlies freak me out. Throw potential disease into the mix and my inner scared germophobe comes out in full force. Based on this, you can imagine why ticks would be my worst night mare. They are small arachnids – a class of eight-legged invertebrates which includes spiders, another sworn enemy of mine – and are closely related to mites.
Ticks are parasites, which means they live off other organisms. Specifically, they are ectoparasites (external parasites) so they are usually found on the skin, as opposed to parasites like worms which are found deeper inside the body. Skin is a fertile playground for ticks, and they live off the blood of other animals including human beings. Feeding on blood, and moving from one host to another, makes them prolific disease carriers. Ticks are known to transmit up to 12 different diseases which affect both human beings and other animals.
One of such diseases is Lyme disease – a bacterial disease usually characterized by a circular rash in its early stages, as well as other symptoms like fatigue, headaches, fever and even facial paralysis. The disease can usually be treated completely when antibiotics are administered promptly, however some sufferers can experience symptoms long after the initial infection if the disease is not quickly addressed. This condition is known as Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS). The disease, as well as the ticks who spread it, is increasingly becoming a talking point because celebrities have begun to speak about being affected by it. For instance, model Bella Hadid, singer Avril Lavigne and TV personality Kelly Osbourne have all spoken about having the disease.
In addition to this, experts have warned that the prevalence of disease-carrying ticks could be on the rise. Ticks typically thrive in warmer and humid conditions, and the effects of global warming mean that more and more places are becoming conducive environments for these parasites. In the UK, this problem is being exacerbated by a growing number of wild deer, on whose skin ticks live. With growing concerns around the spread of ticks and the health risk they pose, one Facebook video became a welcome viral sensation when it showed how to remove a tick from one’s skin.