Ticks are ectoparasites that feed on the blood of their hosts and can transmit diseases to both humans and animals. Although Alaska is known for its cold climate, ticks can still be found in certain areas of the state. In this article, we will discuss the types of ticks found in Alaska, the diseases they can transmit, and how to prevent tick bites.
Discover 8 Ticks in Alaska
Ticks are not native to Alaska, but they can be introduced to the state through travel or migratory wildlife. Some ticks have been found in Alaska, including the Rabbit Tick, American Dog Tick, Ixodes Angustus, Brown Dog Tick, Squirrel Tick, Rocky Mountain Wood Tick, Lone Star Tick, and Seabird Tick.
- Rabbit Tick (Haemaphysalis leporispalustris): This tick is commonly found on rabbits and other small mammals in Alaska. It is a known vector for Tularemia, a bacterial disease that can be transmitted to humans through tick bites or contact with infected animals.
- American Dog Tick (Dermacentor variabilis): This tick is found throughout North America and is commonly found on dogs and other large mammals. It is a known vector for Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a bacterial disease that can cause fever, headache, and a rash.
- Ixodes Angustus: This tick is commonly found in Alaska and is a known vector for Lyme disease, a bacterial disease that can cause fever, headache, and joint pain.
- Brown Dog Tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus): This tick is commonly found on dogs and can be introduced to Alaska through travel. It is a known vector for Ehrlichiosis, a bacterial disease that can cause fever, muscle aches, and fatigue.
- Squirrel Tick (Ixodes muris): This tick is commonly found on squirrels and other small mammals in Alaska. It is a known vector for Lyme disease and Powassan virus, a rare viral disease that can cause fever, headache, and vomiting.
- Rocky Mountain Wood Tick (Dermacentor andersoni): This tick is found throughout the western United States, including Alaska. It is a known vector for Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
- Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma americanum): This tick is not commonly found in Alaska but can be introduced to the state through migratory birds. It is a known vector for several diseases, including Ehrlichiosis and Lyme disease.
- Seabird Tick (Ixodes uriae): This tick is commonly found on seabirds in Alaska and can occasionally bite humans. It is not known to transmit any diseases to humans.
How are ticks being imported into Alaska?
Researchers investigating the arrival of non-native ticks in Alaska are exploring how they are being imported. Understanding the mechanisms behind this can help develop effective surveillance strategies and policies to detect ticks early and prevent their establishment in new areas. The primary routes of tick importation into Alaska are believed to be people and pets traveling to tick endemic regions, migratory birds, and movement of large and small mammals from the Canadian border.
Tick Season in Alaska
Tick season in Alaska typically runs from late May to early September when the weather is warmer and ticks are most active. During this time, it is important to take precautions to avoid tick bites and the potential transmission of tick-borne diseases.
Ticks are commonly found in grassy and wooded areas, and hikers and campers are at higher risk of tick bites. The most common species of ticks found in Alaska are the Rocky Mountain wood tick, the American dog tick, and the squirrel tick. While these ticks do not carry Lyme disease, they can transmit other diseases such as tularemia and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Diseases Transmitted by Ticks in Alaska
Ticks in Alaska can transmit a variety of diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and tularemia. Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and can cause symptoms such as fever, headache, and joint pain. Rocky Mountain spotted fever is caused by the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii and can cause symptoms such as fever, rash, and headache. Tularemia is caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis and can cause symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and muscle aches.
Preventing Tick Bites
The best way to prevent tick bites is to avoid areas where ticks are commonly found. This includes wooded areas, fields, and tall grass. If you are going to be in an area where ticks are present, there are several steps you can take to prevent tick bites:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants that are tucked into your socks.
- Use insect repellent that contains DEET.
- Check yourself and your pets for ticks after spending time outdoors.
- Shower as soon as possible after coming indoors to wash off any ticks that may be on your skin.
- Treat your pets with tick repellent and check them for ticks regularly.
Treating ticks on pets
Check your pet for ticks regularly: It’s essential to regularly check your pet’s fur, particularly after spending time outdoors, for any signs of ticks. Pay close attention to areas such as the neck, ears, and underarms, as ticks often attach to these areas.
Use tick prevention products: There are several tick prevention products available on the market, including collars(Seresto, Scalibor), topical treatments(Frontline Plus), and oral medications(Bravecto, Nexgard, Simparica).
Remove ticks promptly: If you find a tick on your pet, it’s important to remove it as soon as possible. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible and pull upward with steady, even pressure. Avoid squeezing the tick or twisting it as this can cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin.
Monitor your pet for symptoms: Watch your pet for any signs of tick-borne illnesses, such as fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite. If you notice any symptoms, contact your veterinarian right away.
Consider professional treatment: If your pet has a severe tick infestation or has contracted a tick-borne disease, your veterinarian may recommend professional treatment to remove the ticks and treat any underlying medical issues.
Remember, prevention is the best course of action when it comes to ticks on pets. Speak to your veterinarian about the best preventative measures and tick treatments for your furry friend. By taking these steps, you can help protect your pet from the harmful effects of ticks and keep them happy and healthy.
Ticks are a common problem in many parts of the United States, and Alaska is no exception. Although the risk of tick-borne diseases in Alaska is relatively low, it is still important to take steps to prevent tick bites when spending time outdoors. By avoiding areas where ticks are commonly found and taking other preventive measures, you can reduce your risk of tick bites and the diseases they can transmit. If you do find a tick attached to your skin, it is important to remove it as soon as possible to reduce the risk of disease transmission.