Pests of Medical Importance
What is the public health risk of ticks? Ticks are external parasites of humans and other animals. Ticks are obligate blood feeders, meaning they have to take a blood meal to survive and continue in their life cycle. Different species of ticks in the United States are responsible for transmitting several zoonotic diseases, or infections shared between people and animals. These pathogens can cause disease in humans, pets, livestock, and wildlife animals. One of the most important pathogens vectored by ticks is Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease. Lyme disease is number one arthropod-vectored disease to people in the United States with over 300,000 cases annually, and is transmitted by blacklegged (deer) ticks.
An understanding of the ecology of tick-borne disease can help reduce tick-bite risk. These educational materials can enable informed decision making about about tick risk, avoiding contact with ticks, and determining appropriate methods of prevention and control.
Penn State Extension Resources
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