Your complete guide to the horrifying reality of tick season.
You’re probably already a little afraid of ticks. Sure, there are plenty of more existentially upsetting creatures dwelling deep in the ocean or lurking in dank caves. But you’re unlikely to have to actually deal with any of them, and you’re certainly not going to run into a deep sea nightmare monster while you’re just strolling around minding your own business. Ticks, on the other hand, are everywhere.
You probably thought that ticks were just kind of…there. Maybe they sometimes fall and land on your body, or you happen to brush by them on a tree. You assumed that the natural world didn’t have it out for you. You were naïve, you sweet summer child, and you were so very wrong. Ticks may be essentially blind, but they’re not just idly waiting in the woods hoping to accidentally drink your blood. The moment you enter their territory, you become their prey. Ticks are obligate parasites—they can’t survive long without your blood—and that’s a powerful motivator to find a warm body to feed off.
Even up against a tiny, sightless foe, you don’t stand much of a chance. They’ve been around since the Cretaceous period about 145 million years ago, and they have perfected their approach. Prevention only works to a limited extent. But at least in the aftermath of the Great Tick War, you and your opposable thumbs have the upper hand.
Ticks aren’t there by accident
It’s true that you often get exposed to ticks by brushing up against them. But it’s not like they’re just hanging out on a leaf enjoying a sunny day when you happen to walk by. They’re lying in wait.
At the end of a tick’s front legs sits a tiny structure called Haller’s organ. This little sensory pit detects chemicals and odors in the air. And while you can wear all the mosquito repellent and deodorant that you want, you can’t hide the one signature scent that ticks use to hunt you: your breath.
With every exhalation, you release carbon dioxide into the air—and boy does that sweet CO2 get ticks going. Some of them will literally run towards the scent of a potential host. And yeah, ticks can’t run very fast on a human scale, but the mental image of a little arthropod racing towards you on its clicking-clattering legs is still somehow upsetting. They can also pick up other scents like ammonia, so peeing in the woods only makes things worse. As soon as they smell you, they’re comin’ for you.
Researchers actually use this to their advantage when they want to catch the little buggers. One entomologist told Radiolab, in one of the best quotes of all time, that “we often collect ticks by putting out blocks of dry ice on a white sheet. Come back in an hour or two, ticks are all gathered around the block waving their little front legs. Kind of like worshipping a deity.” It would be funnier if it wasn’t so alarming.
That arm-waving behavior is called questing. The most any tick species can actually see is vague shapes, so they can’t exactly run and jump at you. But they can position themselves on leaves and branches, extend their prickly legs out, and wait for you to walk by. And when you brush against them, they board the Human Train headed straight for Bloodtown.
Once they’re on you, you’re not likely to notice them
Some tick species will latch on wherever they’ve landed. Others will roam around your body looking for skin better suited to their needs. They’re especially fond of the area around your ears, where your epidermis is thin and easy to puncture. This is why you often find ticks on your dog’s head—it’s their favorite easy access point.
You’re probably not going to see or feel those teensy-weensy bodies crawling up your arm. But you can make the task a little easier by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants while outside, preferably in light colors, so any critters on their way to turn your head into an all-you-can-eat buffet stand out. Ticks are usually a dark-ish brown color, so they’ll pop more against a light khaki. And a hat will help protect your scalp, where it’s especially easy to lose a tick in your hair.
If a tick manages to attach itself to your skin, you won’t notice—they inject you with anesthetic first. You’ll remain blissfully unaware as they use their little mouths to drill into you and insert their hypostome, which is basically a tiny harpoon-straw they use to suck blood out of you.
Ticks are everywhere
Not a single place in the continental U.S. is safe from ticks’ tiny jaws. The brown dog tick lives in every state, and the other half dozen species have overlapping territories all over. The southeast and mid-Atlantic are the epicenters of the tick world, however. They have the warm, humid climates that help the little arachnids thrive
Some species prefer woods. Others like tall grasses or shrubs. Still more prefer the dark, damp environs of a cave. The point is: they’re all over the place. And they can spread easily, because they hitch rides on much larger creatures. Increasing deer and human populations have helped them expand their territory already, and the warming climate means they’re able to thrive in more and more places.
A single bite can carry multiple disease risks
Each tick species tends to carry certain bloodborne illnesses, but they don’t just limit themselves to one. A tick can harbor multiple bacteria and viruses. Here’s a small sampling of the ailments you can catch and some of the symptoms you’ll be treated to:
Tularemia: fever, painful lymph nodes, possibly life-threatening pneumonia.
Powassan virus: inflammation of the brain and membranes surrounding the central nervous system, fever, headache, vomiting, seizures.
Lyme disease: rash, headache, heart palpitations, severe joint pain, facial palsy (loss of muscle control on one side), inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.
Ehrlichiosis: fever, muscle pain, vomiting, confusion, headache.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever: rash, fever, vomiting, abdominal pain.
And that’s not to mention alpha-gal syndrome, which results in a lifelong allergy to red meat.
What to do if you find a tick
If you find a tick, the first step is always to panic slightly at how gross they are. Step two is to frantically look around for something to GET IT OFF GET IT OFF RIGHT NOW. The best tool in this case is forceps, which are kind of like tweezers with a locking mechanism—they stay tightly clenched once you pinch the tick. If you don’t have forceps, go for a good set of tweezers. You want to grip the tick firmly, as close as you can to your skin. You’re trying to remove a tiny mouthpiece that’s currently embedded in your body, after all.
Hopefully, the tick is still pretty small. The bigger it is, the longer it’s been feeding and the greater the chances that it’s already transmitted a disease to you. Either way, you shouldn’t squeeze the blood-thirsty bug. The best case scenario is popping it into a little blood explosion, which is harmless but thoroughly gross, and if you’re unlucky you might actually end up squirting the blood back into your body.
So grip that tick by the head and pull firmly. It will probably hurt. If it doesn’t hurt, you’ve likely done it wrong: go back and try to get the little mouthpiece out, because it’s probably still in there. If you can’t, don’t worry too much about it—just leave it alone and let your skin heal over.
Now comes the real fun. Tickborne diseases can take weeks to show symptoms, so be vigilant and look for any rashes on your body. If you have any unusual symptoms, even if you think you’re just coming down with a summer cold, go to the doctor. This is not the time to suffer heroically in silence. This is the time to take advantage of all modern medicine has to offer.
WARNING!! TAPEWORM SUSHI! Would You Eat This?
Afterwards, the fish was thrown out in its’ entirety, and the complete work area was cleaned off and sanitized properly. We used our liquid detergent to scrub down the entire area of the cutting board including the cooler top as well as the knives and utensils, and then sprayed the entire area with a mixture of 2 tablespoons of bleach to a gallon of water and let that entire area air dry. The knives, after cleaned off with detergent were also soaked in this bleach liquid and then taken out to air dry.
If you’re a sushi fan, this is why you need to visit only the places that have a good reputation; if not you’ll be faced with some dangerous eating that could get you sick for many many months. Furthermore, we know that many restaurants, upon finding parasites like what we have shown, cut out the “infected areas” and use the rest. They may also cook the infected area as well. We choose to discard the entire fish as this is what a reputable establishment should do. Profit has no place when a patron’s safety is in question.
The cameraman actually had an experience with eating fish infected with parasites. He ate raw wild salmon from a Publix in Lake City FL, a large chain supermarket and the fish was infected. A couple months later, he went to use the toilet and when he was finished, he went to wipe himself and saw a white stringy substance that looked almost like strand of mucus hanging from his anus into the toilet. When he went to wipe away, thinking it was mucus, it kept coming out from his anus and would wipe away. When he took a closer look, he saw that it was moving and was alive! Needless to say, he was in a state of panic and called his doctor who prescribed some pills to take. An hour after, the pills gave him a very bad case of diarrhea which when he looked in the toilet, were signs of the dead tapeworms. It was an experience he has vowed never to go through again…
OMG! Are You Infected With Spirochete Parasites? Please Sit Down While Watching This!
So far to date. Six people and myself I have seen tested, most people tested had never been tested for spirochetes! Half of them in decent health. All tested positive for this bacterium. 100% infection rate. This literally means that healthy people could be infected at low infestation levels or loads. Bordello strain Spirochetes have a life cycle similar to egg layers! A larva stage may exist too.
Treatment must deal with Ammonia toxicity aka Herx reaction.Treatment must be sustained over more than one life cycle and may have to be interrupted of 24 /48 hrs for any toxicity reactions related to parasite die off.
I would not recommend a Western Blot Test. That raises eyebrows. Dark field microscopy is essential if you have chronic illness.
Lyme is susceptible to ultra violet, infra red, gamma radiation especially in pupil and larval stages. Sudden die off will cause sudden symptoms. If you have intense knee pain, please consider that you could be one of the 90 percent with this infection.
Spirochetes will target dead, dying, injured tissues. May be the reason for cystic response including Lipoma and Rheumatoid cysts. May hide in nerve tissue but I doubt it. Epstein Barr hides in nerve tissue.
If you have cardiac damage to progression of disease, or acute infarction, heavy steroid use, congestive failure spirochetes can infect your heart, similar to Sarcoidosis.
Spirochetes can hide but must feed in plasma. But seem to love red cells at the non oxygenated side of hemoglobin or in venous blood cells that are O2 deficient.
Spirochete will leave people susceptible to viral infections and yeast infections, black mold, tuberculosis and other infections.
Epstein Barr and Spirochetes make a dangerous combination and Spirochete load may actually determine the type and nature of your Epstein Barr / Autoimmune disease.
Longer term, untreated will present like Lyme disease but secondary infections can be more acute and require immediate attention while the baseline Parasitic virus or bacterium goes unaddressed.
Support provocative theory and stimulating discussions. Searching for TRUTH involves all of us!
Parasite-schizophrenia connection: One-fifth of schizophrenia cases may involve the parasite T. gondii
Many factors, both genetic and environmental, have been blamed for increasing the risk of a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Some, such as a family history of schizophrenia, are widely accepted. Others, such as infection with Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite transmitted by soil, undercooked meat and cat feces, are still viewed with skepticism.
A new study by Gary Smith, professor of population biology and epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, used epidemiological modeling methods to determine the proportion of schizophrenia cases that may be attributable to T. gondii infection. The work, published in the journal Preventive Veterinary Medicine, suggests that about one-fifth of cases may involve the parasite.
“Infection with Toxoplasma is very common, so, even if only a small percentage of people suffer adverse consequences, we could be talking about problems that affect thousands and thousands of people,” Smith said.
In the United States, just over a fifth of the population is infected with T. gondii. The vast majority aren’t aware of it. But there are some populations that need to be concerned. For example, if a woman becomes infected for the first time during pregnancy, her fetus can die or suffer serious developmental problems. People with HIV or other diseases that weaken the immune system are susceptible to a complication of T. gondii infection called toxoplasmic encephalitis, which can be deadly.
Though the medical community has long believed that most healthy people suffer no adverse effects from a T. gondii infection, recent studies have found evidence of worrisome impacts, including an association with schizophrenia because the parasite is found in in the brain as well as in muscles. Other work has shown that some antipsychotic drugs can stop the parasite from reproducing. In addition, field and laboratory studies in mice, rats and people have shown that infection with T. gondii triggers changes in behavior and personality.
To further investigate this connection, Smith sought to calculate the population attributable fraction, or PAF, a metric epidemiologists use to determine how important a risk factor might be. In this case, Smith explained that the PAF is “the proportion of schizophrenia diagnoses that would not occur in a population if T. gondii infections were not present.”
The usual method of calculating the PAF was not well suited to examining the link between schizophrenia and T. gondii, because some of the variables are constantly in flux. For example, the proportion of people infected by T. gondii increases with age. Using a standard epidemiological modeling format, but taking into account all of the age-related changes in the relevant factors, Smith found the average PAF during an average lifetime to be 21.4 percent.
“In other words, we ask, if you could stop infections with this parasite, how many cases could you prevent?” Smith said. “Over a lifetime, we found that you could prevent one-fifth of all cases. That, to me, is significant.”
Smith noted that in some countries, the prevalence of T. gondiiinfection is much higher than in the U.S., and these countries also have a higher incidence of schizophrenia.
People with schizophrenia have greatly reduced life expectancies, and many are unable to work. Family members may also leave the workforce to care for relatives with the disease. For these reasons and others, schizophrenia acts as a large drain on the economy, responsible for $50 to $60 billion in health-care expenditures in the U.S. each year.
“By finding out how important a factor T. gondii infection is, this work might inform our attitude to researching the subject,” Smith said. “Instead of ridiculing the idea of a connection between T. gondii and schizophrenia because it seems so extraordinary, we can sit down and consider the evidence. Perhaps then we might be persuaded to look for more ways to reduce the number of people infected with Toxoplasma.”
The study was supported by the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.
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