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The Most Commonly Encountered Ticks In Arizona

Ticks are a major public health threat in some parts of the country, and while Arizona is home to several tick species, some of which spread disease, there are only four species that residents of the state commonly encounter. These tick species include the brown dog tick, the American dog tick, the rocky mountain wood tick, and the adobe tick. Unlike the other three species, the adobe tick is a “soft tick” from the Argasidae family. Of these four ticks, the brown dog tick may be the most dangerous tick to humans due to it ability to live entirely indoors and spread disease to humans. Since ticks have four pairs of legs, they are arachnids, and unlike the arachnids most people encounter in homes and elsewhere, ticks are parasitic organisms that feed on human blood, similar to mites, which are also categorized as arachnids. In order for ticks to survive, they must feed on the blood of their vertebrate hosts, including humans and a variety of other mammals, as well as birds.

Surprisingly, ticks are the most common arthropods that transmit vector-borne diseases in the US. When a tick feeds on a human, it becomes engorged with blood, but they extract all of the water from the blood before injecting it back into the human body. This means that ticks inject about 75 percent of the fluids they gather back into the human bloodstream, allowing them to efficiently transmit a variety of disease-causing organisms into the human body. These disease-causing organisms include bacteria, protozoa, viruses, spirochetes, rickettsiae, nematodes, and toxins. A tick bite can transmit pathogens while also putting a person at risk of developing a secondary infection, and some people are allergic to tick saliva, making them capable of causing serious allergic reactions, and possibly anaphylactic shock.

For residents of Arizona, the brown dog tick poses the greatest threat because this species feeds on dogs, which allows them to hitchhike into homes where they are capable of completing their entire life cycle. Adult brown dog ticks can survive for 18 months, while larvae can survive for eight months without feeding. Once indoors, brown dog ticks eventually detach from the skin of dogs and jump onto walls where they can then jump onto passing humans. Indoor brown dog tick infestations are not uncommon, but they can be prevented by regularly checking pets for ticks, keeping grass cut short, and allowing the sun to shine in shaded parts of a lawn, as ticks avoid sunlight.

Have you ever found a tick on your dog?

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