The Lone Star tick, whose bite can lead to people developing an allergy to red meat and other foods, is found mostly in the southeastern United States, in addition to parts of the Midwest and the Northeast.
Female Lone Star ticks have a white dot in the center of their back. Males often have dots or white streaks on the edge of their bodies.
Matt Combes, ecological health unit science supervisor with the Missouri Department of Conservation, said the department did a tick survey last summer asking citizens to collect ticks and mail them in.
They collected 13,000 ticks. The Lone Star tick was the most prevalent.
And the “range and abundance” of Lone Star ticks has increased over the last 20 to 30 years, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They have been found in large numbers from Maine to central Texas and Oklahoma.
The food allergy to red meat, known as alpha-gal syndrome, is spread when a tick bite “transmits a sugar molecule called alpha-gal into the person’s body,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
There were more than 34,000 reported cases of the syndrome in the US between 2010 and 2018, Today reported, with Arkansas, Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Missouri documenting the highest number of positive cases per 100,000 people.
So what should you do if you find you have been bitten by a tick? What are the symptoms of tick-borne illnesses, and do they have any treatment? Here’s what you need to know.
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How do you remove a tick?
No, Vaseline and hot matches do not work to remove a tick that has bitten your skin – and neither does bourbon.
Jonathan Larson, an extension entomologist at the University of Kentucky, previously told USA TODAY that, if a tick has bitten you “The best thing to do is to take a pair of pointy tweezers, get as close to your skin as possible and grip the head area of the tick and then pull straight up, steadily but not with a jerking motion. ”
“You do not want to break any parts of the tick off into your body, which could lead to other infections, but you do want to get it out of the skin. “Once it’s out of there, you can put it in some rubbing alcohol or into hot soapy water, anything you want to do to try and kill it.”
Experts warn against pouring alcohol on a tick, holding a match head to the bug and other unconventional methods.
“When you do that while the tick is feeding on you, you are agitating it, and you’re increasing the likelihood that it could sort of regurgitate into you. And that could increase the likelihood of disease transmission happening, “Larson said.
What should you do if you find a tick on you?
Larson also previously told USA TODAY that if you find a tick on your shoes or clothes that has not bitten you, you do not need to worry about the bug transferring pathogens.
If a tick has bitten you, you should remove the tick as quickly as possible and consider calling your physician, especially if you live in an area where Lyme disease is common, according to the CDC. You should also watch for symptoms for up to 30 days.
What are symptoms of tick-borne diseases?
If you are bitten by a tick and notice any of these symptoms within 30 days, you should contact a healthcare provider, according to the CDC.
- Muscle pain
- Joint swelling and pain
Most tick-borne diseases can be treated with antibiotics, according to the CDC.
However, with a condition such as alpha-gal syndrome, you should avoid foods that cause an allergic reaction, according to the Mayo Clinic. Some people with the condition are able to eat red meat again after one to two years without additional bites from ticks carrying alpha-gal.
Contributing: Marina Pitofsky, USA TODAY