Which Tick Species Pose A Threat To Louisiana Residents? Which Diseases Do Ticks Transmit To Humans In The State?

Ticks are generally considered a public health threat only within the northeast United States, but there exists nearly 900 documented tick species in the world today, 90 of which dwell within the continental US. These 90 species are distributed all over the US, but only a minority are capable of transmitting disease to humans.

Five disease-spreading tick species have been documented within the state of Louisiana, but only four of these species transmit diseases to humans. The brown dog tick is only capable of transmitting disease to dogs, cats and several other animals. However, in Arizona, Texas and New Mexico, the brown dog ticks can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever to humans, but only in this one particular region. The most serious tick-borne disease, lyme disease, can be contracted in Louisiana, but lyme cases are relatively rare in the state.

The American dog tick can be found in all areas of Louisiana where it can spread tularemia and Rocky Mountain spotted fever to humans. Only adult female ticks bite humans and most bites occur during the spring and summer seasons.

The deer tick, also known as the “black-legged tick” spreads a variety of diseases including lyme, anaplasmosis, B. miyamotoi, ehrlichiosis, babesiosis and Powassan virus disease. This tick can bite humans all year round in Louisiana.

The Gulf Coast Tick can spread a form of spotted fever known as Rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis, but this species is more of a threat to animals than it is to humans. Only adult ticks can transmit diseases to humans, while nymphs feed on the blood of birds and small rodents.

The lone star tick is the most aggressive of all ticks, and they will not hesitate to bite humans. These ticks spread pathogens to humans that cause ehrlichiosis, Heartland virus, tularemia, and STARI. Only adult females transmit diseases to humans, but all bites from lone star ticks can cause skin irritation due to compounds in their saliva.

Have you ever found a tick embedded in your skin?




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