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Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

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Lone Star Ticks

Dr. Ram Raghavan

The Lone star ticks (Amblyomma americanum) are known to transmit several animal and human diseases. Some of the well-documented diseases transmitted by these ticks in Kansas are human monocytic ehrlichiosis, cytauxzoonosis, and tularemia. The incidence rate of these diseases have increased steadily over the last decade and lone star tick activity is suspected to be a possible cause.

Lone star ticks have traditionally only been found in Eastern Kansas (east of I-35) until recent years but increasingly, they are spotted by practitioners in areas west of I-35 as well. Recently, our modeling efforts to predict their geographic range indicated that they can successfully establish populations in Western Kansas as well.

figure 1: female
Figure 1: Female
 
figure 2: male
Figure 2: Male
 

To validate our models and to and confirm their presence in Western Kansas, we request and encourage you to submit whole tick specimens to KSVDL. Although Lone star ticks are easy to find on grasses along wooded edges during April through August they can be readily spotted on dogs and other animals . Figures 1 and 2.

Please use caution when handling ticks as they may carry infectious agents. CDC recommends the following procedure to remove ticks if found attached to your skin.

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
  4. Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.

For more information please contact KSVDL Client Care at 866-512-5650 or clientcare@vet.k-state.edu.

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