The Lone Star tick got its name because it has a characteristic white dot, vaguely star-shaped, on its back. Many people have never heard about this tick, but it is spreading in this country. Although it, fortunately, doesn’t transmit the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, it increasingly has been found transmitting some other serious new and expanding diseases.
This tick is now in much of the eastern half of the country. Its northern spread used to be limited to southern New Jersey, but in the last few decades, they have been spreading north, all the way to southern Canada. The bite of the Lone Star tick has been found to transmit several serious disease-causing organisms, including the Heartland virus, tularemia, ehrlichiosis, southern tick-associated rash illness (known as STARI, which causes a rash similar to Lyme disease), and the Bourbon virus. Strangely enough, the bite of the lone star tick can also cause a person to develop an allergy to red meat, known as alpha-gal syndrome, discovered in 2009.
Interestingly, the new Heartland virus that this tick transmits was discovered in 2009 in Missouri. So far it appears that the Lone Star tick is the primary transmitter of the virus to humans. Most people recover from the virus, but there have been two known deaths so far. People have now been infected by the virus in six states, with the most recent infections happening in Illinois.
Unfortunately, like many tick-transmitted diseases, the Heartland virus is an emerging disease, and we still don’t know how far it will spread, and how common a problem it will become.
- Posted by admin
- On June 22, 2021
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