Lone Star Tick Disease

by Sam Malone

Lone Star tick disease is a condition caused by the infectious bites of the Lone Star tick. The Lone Star tick or Amblyomma americanum is commonly found in the wooded areas, alongside the animal resting places and in the other geographical conditions. Lone Star ticks are also called as the three-host ticks because they feed on three different hosts for their three stages of life, namely, larva, nymph, and the adult stage.  Humans come under their category of hosts for all their three life cycle stages. So, they can infect the human beings in any of their life stages.

The Lone Star tick acts as an active vector for the various tick borne diseases in humans. They play a leading role in transmitting the pathogens, resulting in various human and animal diseases. According to a journal article published by the American Medical Association, ticks are proved to be the second most frequent vectors for a variety of infectious diseases in humans. The Lone Star tick primarily carries the Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Ehrlichia ewingii, which are the main causes of ehrlichiosis in humans.

There are three different variations of this disease, namely, human granulocytic anaplasmosis, ehrlichia ewingii ehrlichiosis, and human monocytic ehrlichiosis. The first two types are caused by the Lone Star ticks, while the monocytic ehrlichiosis is caused by the American dog tick. Typical symptoms of ehrlichiosis include headache, vomiting, joint pain, nausea, and fever. Body rashes occur in 40 percent of the patients, but the rashes are not seen on the hands and feet.

The various other diseases in humans with Lone Star tick as a vector are Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI) and Tularemia. The symptoms of STARI include red, expanding sores that develop around the region of a Lone Star tick bite. The red rashes usually build up within 7 days of the bite and can grow up to 3 inches diameter or more. The associated symptoms include fever, muscle pain, headache, joint pains, and fatigue. Tularemia is another rare infectious disease, and the symptoms include headache, muscle aches, fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, cough, conjunctivitis, and pneumonia.

Most of the Lone Star tick borne diseases are caused by bacteria. So, one of the treatment options include the use of antibiotics. It is necessary to diagnose the disease early so as to remove the chances of developing any type of complications. For treatment of ehrlichiosis, antibiotics such as doxycycline or tetracycline may be used. For STARI, tetracycline may be used. Tularemia may be treated by using streptomycin, fluoroquinolones, tetracycline and chloramphenicol. It is recommended to consult the physician before taking the antibiotics.

References
  1. http://insects.tamu.edu/fieldguide/cimg370.html
  2. http://labs.russell.wisc.edu/wisconsin-ticks/wisconsin-ticks/amblyomma-americanum-lone-star-tick/
  3. www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Womens_Health_Watch/2009/June/Recognizing-and-avoiding-tick-borne-illness
  4. http://www.clemson.edu/cafls/departments/esps/factsheets/medvet/tick_borne_diseases_affecting_humans_in_the_southeastern_united_states_mv19.html

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