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Tick-Borne Diseases in the State of Kansas

Serving Manhattan | Wichita | Kansas City Metro | Topeka

tick in skin in Kansas by American Pest ManagementEnjoying the great outdoors often comes with the risk of encountering ticks, tiny arachnids capable of transmitting various diseases to humans and animals alike. With Kansas being home to a diverse range of habitats, from grasslands to forests, understanding the prevalence, risks, and preventive measures against tick-borne illnesses is crucial for safeguarding our health and well-being. If you want to keep you and your loved ones safe from potentially dangerous tick-borne illnesses, it’s helpful to know which ones are most common in our area.

Most Common Tick-Borne Diseases 

It’s essential to remain vigilant and take precautions to minimize the risk of contracting these diseases when spending time outdoors in tick-prone areas. While not all ticks in Kansas carry diseases, several prevalent cases frequently arise, including: 

  • Spotted Fever Rickettsiosis: Spotted fever rickettsiosis comprises a group of diseases with overlapping symptoms, all stemming from closely related bacteria. The most common among them is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, accompanied by others such as Rickettsialpox, Rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis, and Pacific Coast tick fever. Typical symptoms include headaches, fevers, rashes, and the development of dark scabs near the tick bite. While some cases can present life-threatening complications, others manifest as mild ailments that resolve swiftly.
  • Lyme Disease: Although Lyme disease is not as ancient as some illnesses, its emergence since its identification in Lyme, Connecticut, during the early 1970s has marked its significance. In its initial phases, Lyme disease can exhibit symptoms such as a rash and flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, fatigue, and body aches. Without proper treatment or accurate diagnosis, it can progress to chronic illness and potentially life-threatening complications, including erythema migrans, joint pain, neurological disorders, and aggravated heart conditions.
  • Anaplasmosis: Spread mainly by blacklegged ticks, anaplasmosis is an illness caused by the bacteria A. phagocytophilum. Symptoms usually manifest 1-2 weeks after infection, although older individuals or those with compromised immune systems may experience them sooner. Anaplasmosis typically presents with symptoms such as fever, chills, and muscle aches. Yet, without immediate intervention, it can advance to respiratory and organ failure, potentially leading to fatal outcomes.
  • Ehrlichiosis: Ehrlichiosis is on the rise in the United States, with Kansas experiencing a higher incidence compared to many other regions, especially during the spring and summer when tick activity peaks. Similar to other tick-borne illnesses in our area, it is transmitted through tick bites. Common symptoms include rashes, fatigue, red eyes, and fever, typically appearing within a few weeks of exposure. Additionally, some individuals may suffer from muscle aches, nausea, coughing, and joint pain.
  • Alpha Gal Syndrome: Alpha-gal syndrome (AGS) is often linked with Lyme disease, yet contrary to common assumptions, it is not transmitted by the bacterium responsible for other ailments. Instead, AGS resides in the saliva of Lone Star Ticks, facilitating its transmission during a bite. This syndrome is primarily recognized for inducing allergic responses to a particular carbohydrate present in nearly all mammalian meats, such as beef and pork. Individuals with AGS may encounter severe allergic reactions shortly after consuming meat, some of which can be life-threatening. Unfortunately, there is currently no known cure for this condition.

While most tick bites do not lead to illness, it is wise to remain cautious if you are aware of being bitten. Be vigilant for common signs of tick-borne disease, such as rashes, skin irritation, fever, chills, nausea, diarrhea, muscle aches, joint pain, headaches, and flu-like symptoms. If you notice any of these symptoms or have any concerns about your tick bite, it is always best to consult with a healthcare provider promptly.

No, contrary to popular belief, ticks do not always harbor Lyme disease. However, with just 500,000 Americans contracting Lyme disease annually, it remains crucial to safeguard yourself from tick bites, particularly during the spring and summer months when these pests are at their peak activity.

With timely medical intervention, certain tick-borne diseases, including Lyme disease, can resolve within a few weeks with antibiotic therapy. However, some patients may experience prolonged symptoms, particularly if they have compromised immune systems or delay seeking treatment. Individuals with AGS may need to modify their diets and carry epinephrine auto-injectors indefinitely. It’s crucial to recognize that without medical attention, most tick-borne illnesses can result in lifelong health complications or even death. If you suspect you’ve been exposed to a tick, it’s imperative to consult your doctor immediately.

Certainly, pets can contract illnesses from ticks. For instance, American dog ticks are capable of transmitting Lyme disease to dogs and cats, in addition to humans. Especially if your pet ventures outdoors, it is prudent to consult with your veterinarian to implement effective tick prevention methods, such as using chemical-treated collars.

How to Avoid Tick Bites

You may be curious about methods to avoid tick bits and maintain your safety. There are several control methods to shield yourself and your family from these pests, including: 

  • Keep grass cut to ankle height.
  • Wear an EPA-registered repellant when outdoors.
  • Wear protective clothing.
  • Shower after outdoor activities. 
  • Fence your yard to keep wildlife out.
  • Remove clutter and wood piles.
  • Work with a veterinarian if you have pets.
  • Avoid walking through tall grasses or dense vegetation. 

Contact The Professionals!

Managing infestations on or around your property is crucial. While it’s challenging to avoid every tick, you can regulate populations in your yard. Our team prioritizes the well-being of our community through effective tick control strategies. Whether you’re facing an ongoing infestation or seeking personalized guidance on maintaining a tick-free environment, get in touch with us today at American Pest Management

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Tick-Borne Diseases in the State of Kansas Serving Manhattan and Wichita

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