The Dangers of the Lone Star Tick

The lone star-tick is becoming a much more well-known tick, and not for good reasons. Below I have some of the main dangers of the lone star tick, what to look out for, and how to control them. Also! Are you looking forward to feasting on grilled hamburgers this summer? The lone star tick has the potential to stop you from eating red meat. Keep reading! 

Background of the Lone Star Tick

Let’s give you a little bit of basic information first about this pest. Then we will dive into the diseases.

Where are lone star ticks found?

The lone star tick, scientifically known as Amblyomma americanum, can be found in southern, eastern, south-central and southeastern states. It has been appearing rapidly recently, and over the past 20-30 years, lone star ticks have been recorded in states from all the way from Maine to Oklahoma. This map from the CDC shows where they have been recorded. Please know that this does not mean you will encounter a lone star tick in these states only. 

Map of U.S. Lonestar Tick Population

What do lone star ticks look like?

Lone star ticks are reddish brown in color and about 3 to 4 mm long.  Female lone star ticks have a unique spot on their back. Male ticks have faint white markings at the edge of the body. Check out the picture below and find this and more tick identification by visiting the CDC’s website here.

Diseases from the Lone Star Tick

Most people think of Lyme disease when thinking of tick-associated diseases. The lone star tick does not carry Lyme disease, in fact, their saliva has been shown to kill Borrelia which is the cause of Lyme Disease. The lone star tick, however, does carry STARI and has been associated with Alpha-Gal Syndrome.

Examples of Lone Star Tick Markings
Image from Center for Disease Control

STARI- Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness

Patients bitten by lone star ticks could develop a circular rash similar to the rash of early Lyme disease. But, like I mentioned, it is not Lyme disease. The main symptom of the Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness (STARI) includes a red, bulls-eye lesion that develops around the site of a bite. Click here for more information from the CDC and pictures of what to look for. The STARI rash may sometimes be accompanied by fatigue, headache, fever, and muscle pains. People should monitor their health closely after any tick bite, and should consult their physician if they experience a rash, fever, headache, joint or muscle pains, or swollen lymph nodes within 30 days of a tick bite.

Alpha-Gal Syndrome

If you are looking forward to grilling burgers this summer, or enjoying red meat at any time of the year, you are going to want to avoid lone star ticks to avoid this potential syndrome that could make you allergic to red meat! 

Alpha-Gal Syndrome (AGS) is on the rise in the U.S. and has been reported worldwide. In the United States, it is most closely associated with lone star tick bites. AGS, according to the CDC’s case definition, is a hypersensitivity reaction to galactose-α-1,3-galactose (alpha-gal), found in non-primate mammalian meat and certain derivative products.

AGS essentially creates a food-allergy to meat products. Symptoms are often delayed by two hours or more after exposure and can arise suddenly, even if you have been consuming meat safely for years. Symptoms include nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting or hives (and many more) that occur 2-10 hours after ingesting meat. Click here for the entire CDC Case Definition and symptom list.

This syndrome has been a recently popular disease, being covered by news reporters in Louisiana, Ohio, Washington D.C., and more! It is something to keep your eye on this summer. 

And others…

Diseases like Ehrlichiosis and more can also be transmitted through a tick bite. Check out this list of tickborne diseases from the CDC and be aware of symptoms! 

How to control ticks in your yard

Ticks are out for the season, so controlling them is very important in order to avoid bites from these annoying pests. Applying pest control, like Stop the Bites! is a great way to control the ticks in your yard in a safe, effective way. If you are a homeowner, ask your Pest Control Professional for Stop the Bites! Natural Mosquito and Tick Control or Find an Applicator of Stop the Bites! If you are a Pest Control Professional looking for a natural solution, fill out our Become an Applicator form and someone will be in contact with you.

Another way to assist with controlling ticks in your yard is following basic landscape practices that do not welcome ticks. This includes removing leaf litter, mowing the lawn frequently, keeping playgrounds away from yard edges and trees, and many more! Check out page 46-50 of the Connecticut Tick Management Handbook for more information.

Thanks for reading this blog! Keep an eye out for all ticks this season and always, but especially the lone star tick. Feel free to add a comment or reach out with any questions!

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