tick in skin in Des Moines, IA | Springer Professional Home SolutionsWhether you like hiking, taking your dog to the park, or spending time in your backyard, you’ve probably come across ticks while enjoying the Iowa wilderness. These pests are extremely common across the state, especially during the spring and summer when the weather heats up. 

Though many people assume that ticks aren’t that big of a deal, they can actually spread a wide variety of diseases to both humans and animals. Being aware of the health risks associated with tick bites could help you spot dangerous symptoms early on. So, here’s an overview of the common tick-borne diseases in Iowa, what they look like, and how you can protect yourself.

Babesiosis

Babesiosis is caused by a protozoa that is primarily spread by the deer tick. Though most hosts don’t experience symptoms for the first few months or years, over time the microscopic parasites will infect red blood cells and lead to severe anemia. 

The anemia may be accompanied by other concerning symptoms such as chills, fever, fatigue, and sweating. Thankfully, treatment is available, so if you suspect you have contracted babesiosis, consult your medical provider right away.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is the most common of the spotted fever rickettsiosis category of diseases. While some cases may only result in mild symptoms that pass quickly, others could lead to life-threatening situations. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Rashes
  • Dark scabs near the bite
  • Fever and nausea

Anaplasmosis

Anaplasmosis is in the same disease category as ehrlichiosis, which is becoming an increasingly big problem across the United States–including here in Iowa. This disease is also transmitted through tick bites, mainly the Lone Star and deer ticks. 

Though symptoms may take a few weeks to start cropping up, they can lead to respiratory and organ failure over time, which could be fatal. Some of the initial symptoms include red eyes, rashes, fatigue, and fever. 

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is perhaps the most well-known tick-borne illness in the world, and unfortunately, it’s also a problem here in Iowa. Most people notice flu-like symptoms at first, which may include fever, chills, and body aches. 

Since the symptoms usually start mildly, most people don’t seek treatment; however, without medical care, lyme disease could lead to long-lasting health consequences such as joint pain, neurological problems, and exacerbated heart disease. This is often caused by the American Dog Tick

Alpha-Gal Syndrome

Alpha-gal syndrome, or AGS, is famous for triggering the development of new allergies—specifically to animal products such as meat and dairy. People with AGS could experience life-threatening anaphylaxis within hours of consuming these products, making it an incredibly challenging condition to live with. Unfortunately, as of now, there is no cure. 

Many people think that AGS is a byproduct of lyme disease, but it’s actually spread directly through the saliva of Lone Star Ticks. The saliva may contain certain compounds that prompt the immune system to produce antibodies in response to exposure to alpha-gal, which is primarily found in mammalian meat.

Tick-Borne Disease FAQs

Most tick bites do not lead to illness, but it’s wise to remain vigilant if you’ve been bitten. In the following weeks, watch for common signs of tick-borne diseases, such as:

  • Skin irritation or rash near the bite
  • Fever, chills, nausea, or diarrhea
  • Muscle aches and joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Flu-like symptoms

If you observe any of these symptoms or have other concerns about your tick bite, consulting a medical professional is advisable. It’s better to be cautious, particularly if you suspect exposure to a tick-borne disease in yourself, a pet, or a loved one.

With timely medical attention, some tick-borne illnesses, like Lyme disease, can be resolved within a few weeks through antibiotic treatments. However, patients with compromised immune systems or delayed treatment may develop prolonged symptoms.

Conversely, certain conditions like Alpha-gal syndrome are not curable and necessitate ongoing management. Those affected may need to adjust their diets and carry epinephrine pens indefinitely.

It’s worth noting that without medical intervention, most tick-borne illnesses can have long-term health repercussions or even prove fatal. If you suspect a tick-related infection, seeking medical advice promptly is essential.

Yes, pets are susceptible to tick-borne illnesses. For instance, blacklegged ticks can transmit Lyme disease to dogs and cats, in addition to humans. If your pet spends time outdoors, collaborating with a veterinarian to implement effective tick prevention methods, such as chemical-treated collars, is recommended.

Tips for Avoiding Tick Bites

Here in Iowa, it may feel impossible to avoid ticks, especially when they come out in droves during the summer. Thankfully, there are still a few protective measures you can take. To reduce your chances of getting bitten by a tick, try these tips:

  • Maintain grass at ankle height
  • Use an EPA-registered repellent when outside
  • Keep your yard fenced to deter wildlife
  • Clear clutter and wood piles that could harbor ticks
  • Seek guidance from a veterinarian for pet care

Another effective approach is managing infestations on or near your property. While total avoidance of ticks may not be feasible in natural settings, controlling populations in your surroundings is achievable—particularly with the assistance of professionals like those at Springer Professional Home Services.

Our team is dedicated to preserving community health by delivering exceptional tick control solutions. Whether you’re grappling with an active infestation or seeking personalized advice on maintaining a tick-free environment, reach out to us today for assistance!

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