SAN ANTONIO -- In an alert from the International Society for Infectious Diseases, Army Environmental Command's entomologist learned of the spread of lone star ticks and passed the information to Army integrated pest management coordinators.
Currently found at many southern Army installations, the lone star ticks, named for the dot on their back and not for the Lone Star State, have been found moving into the northeast United States, including New York.
Lone star ticks are considered "hunter" ticks. They typically seek out mammals, including humans, and crawl quickly toward them. Deer ticks are "questing" ticks. They climb onto grass and then attach themselves to mammals who happen to pass by. Lone star ticks can run three times faster than deer ticks, according to Cornell University.
Lone star ticks do not transmit Lyme disease, the most common illness caused by other ticks. However, the lone star ticks can carry several other serious bacterial and viral diseases and can cause an allergy to red meat.
According to the alert, the tick can spread a bacterial disease called ehrlichiosis, which has similar symptoms to Lyme and can result in severe illness. The lone star tick can spread tularemia, also caused by a bacterium that can cause fevers and skin ulcers.
The tick can also carry Heartland virus. This is of great concern, as there is no vaccine for it yet. The Heartland virus causes a flu-like illness, including fever, headache, muscle aches, diarrhea, appetite loss, and tiredness. Southern tick-associated rash illness is also known to be transmitted by bites from the lone star tick.
Most Army installations already have a tick program in place that explains who and how to report tick bites. The Army Environmental Command tries to spread the word through information products on specific pests that can affect Army operations. Information on ticks are included on two posters the command developed to help installations inform their residents, workers and visitors why they should be concerned. One is to keep adults aware https://go.usa.gov/xwg82 and the other is an activity book for children https://go.usa.gov/xwg8T.
“If parents needs something to occupy their kids during ‘stay-at-home’ restrictions, I recommend our Ticks Make You Sick activity book,” said Dr. Bill Miller, entomologist for the U.S. Army Environmental Command.
Miller recommends that those who live and work on Army installations watch for these ticks, and if you find one on your body, you should contact the local military medical treatment facility. They will send the tick to the Human Tick Test Program at the Army Public Health Center. If they are on your pet, contact your family veterinarian.
Miller said to submit a work order or contact your Integrated Pest Management Coordinator if you find ticks in or near your military housing area. “If someone doesn’t know who their installation pest manager is, they can call me, and I’ll put them in touch,” Miller said.
For more information, contact the U.S. Army Environmental Command at 210-793-7893.