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Minnesota Veterinary Hospital Blog

New Tick-Borne Illnesses Making Their Way into Minnesota and Why Protection Matters

2019-05-22

No, you’re not imagining things. Temperatures in Minnesota really have been in the 70s this week. While the warm weather is a welcome relief after a winter that seemed to drag on forever, pet owners should be aware that this time of year also brings out a lot more ticks. Although ticks can survive in all types of temperatures, they are most active from March to October.

Most Common Types of Ticks in Minnesota

According to the Washington County website, new species of ticks previously only seen in the southwestern regions of the United States are now showing up here. In addition to the black-legged/deer tick and the American dog tick (i.e. wood tick), the Lone Star tick has recently made an unwelcome appearance in our state. Regardless of the specific type of tick, they follow this life cycle and feeding pattern:

  • Larvae: Ticks start their lives as a larva with six legs. They are incapable of transmitting a disease at this point.
  • Nymph: The nymph, which is no larger than a speck of dirt or a freckle, feed from May to June. They are responsible for most tick-borne diseases.
  • Adult: Larger and easier to see and remove, adult ticks feed in the early spring and throughout the fall season. Females lay their eggs after feeding on deer. These eggs hatch into larvae and start their life cycles over again in May and June.

Types of Diseases Transmitted by Ticks

Despite following the same life cycle and feeding patterns, the three primary types of ticks in Minnesota all transmit different diseases. The black-legged deer tick, for example, can transmit anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Lyme disease, and Powassan disease. While each of these diseases have some variations in symptoms, they all share the following symptoms:

  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Stiffness

The American dog tick is primarily responsible for the transmission of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. A sudden onset of fever is the main symptom, followed by loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, rash, headaches, and muscle pain. 

The Lone Star tick, the newcomer to Minnesota, can transmit Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI) or Ehrlichiosis. 

Symptoms of STARI include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Muscle pain
  • Rashes

Common Ehrlichiosis symptoms include:

  • Chills
  • Confusion
  • Diarrhea
  • Eye redness
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea 
  • Rashes

Please schedule a prompt appointment with Minnesota Veterinary Hospital if you notice any of these symptoms in your pet. 

How to Protect Your Pet from Tick-Borne Illness

Checking your pet daily for ticks. Removing them promptly can stop the spread of disease before it has the chance to start. We also recommend that you invest in a Lyme disease vaccine, and a tick control product such as a collar or topical treatment. You can help to reduce tick habitat in your own yard by not allowing wood to stack up and keeping your grass trimmed.

Feel free to contact us at 651-484-3331 if you have any additional questions about tick-borne illness, symptoms, and prevention You can also shop for tick prevention products in our online store.

 

Image credit: vvvita | iStock | Getty Images Plus