Ticks and Tick Disease
Chatham County, NC has one of the highest concentrations of ticks in the United States. Due to that, we also have a high prevalence of diseases that are spread through tick bites. These diseases include Ehrlichiosis, Lyme’s Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Anaplasmosis. Cats can develop an often fatal disease called Cytozoonosis via tick bites, There are many other diseases that can be spread via tick bites but they are less common in our region. However, as animals migrate and travel it is possible that previously less common tick borne illnesses may become more of an issue over time.
Ticks go through four stages of development: EGG-LARVAE-NYMPH-ADULT. Once a tick passes through the EGG stage they must feed on blood to continue to develop. Most ticks feed on different animals during each life stage and they can feed on mammals, rodents, birds, reptiles and amphibians. During feeding the tick cuts into the skin of the host, inserts a feeding tube like structure and ingests blood. It is during feeding when diseases are transmitted.
The best way to prevent tick disease from developing in our pets is through vigorous use of flea and tick products ALL YEAR long. We currently recommend all dogs to be current on an oral product such as Bravecto (every three months) or Nexguard (monthly) and all cats to be current on monthly Revolution. Additionally you should check your pets for ticks after being outdoors as none of the products repel ticks, just kill them once they bite. You can also do measures to help reduce the tick population in your yard by keeping grass cut short, reduce access of your pets to wooded areas, discourage wildlife from congregating in your yard and using area pesticides if needed (there are organic options).
Below are links to information discussing the most common tick diseases we see in our area:
There are many different species of ticks but the most common ones in this part of North Carolina are listed below:
Brown Dog Tick
The Brown Dog Tick is the only tick species that can infest your home or dog kennel and can live all life stages on a dog.
This tick transmits Ehrlichiosis, the most common tick borne illness we see in dogs in Chatham County. To read more about Ehrlichiosis click the link below. The Brown Dog Tick can also spread Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Babesiosis.
Ixodes (Deer Tick)
This tick is very common in our region and prefers to live in woodlands and adjacent grass lands. It needs high humidity and is active almost all year long via the different life stages. All life stages can feed on dogs. It is most notable for spreading Lyme’s Disease, but can also transmit Ehrlichia and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
Lone Star Tick
The adult female Lone Star Tick has a visible white dot on their back while the male is just plain brown. All feeding stages will bite dogs. The Lone Star Tick prefers to live in wooded under brush and grass areas, especially along creeks and rivers where animals tend to rest. They are most active when temperatures are above 50F and high humidity. The ideal host for the adult stage is the white tail deer.
They are notable for spreading Lyme’s Disease, but can also spread Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.