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All posts categorized as Tick:

Opossums…friend or foe?

possums on a branch


Opossums…friend or foe?


Before everyone shouts "FOE!", consider this:  Opossums are one of our greatest allies in the war on ticks.  No, really!  The diet of the opossum include snakes, snails, slugs, mice, rats and carrion…and TICKS.  Their appetite for the tick is practically insatiable.  It is estimated that one opossum consumes up to 5,500 ticks in a single week. (We did not add an extra zero on to that number.  It really is 5,500 ticks per week!) Ticks transmit Lyme disease which affects around 300,000 Americans every year.  While you may think that the lowly opossum basically knocks over trash cans in the dark and likely carries rabies, think again.  Opossums are rarely found to be rabid and if the price to pay for tick control is a tipped trash can every once in a while, then perhaps we should consider that a fair exchange.  The DFW Wildlife Coalition sums it up nicely:

"When left alone, the opossum does not attack pets or other wildlife; he does not chew yhour telephone or electric wires, spread disease, dig up your flower bulbs or turn over your trash cans.  On the contrary, the opossum does a great service in insect, venomous snake, and rodent control.  He takes as his pay only what he eats and maybe a dry place to sleep.  The possum tolerates other pets, our cars, prodding sticks, rocks and brooms.  'Attacks' by possums are simply non-existent.  When he gets too close or accidentally moves into your attic space, he can be easily convinced to move along.  If you are lucky enough to have one of these guys around, you can rest assured he is cleaning up what he can and will soon move along to help someone else."

Want to learn more?  Read the whole article at the Inquisitor here: and cut the opossum a break.  He is more than likely doing much more good than harm!

How is Lyme disease transmitted?

In the USA, the bacteria are transmitted to people and animals by the bite of an infected blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis, commonly called the deer tick, and Ixodes pacificus (western black legged tick) in the West. Although other types of ticks such as the Dermancentor variabilis (american dog) and some insects have been shown to carry the Lyme bacteria, to date, transmission of Lyme through those vectors has not been proven.  Note: Other tick borne disease have been transmitted though the blood supply.
To learn more about Lyme Disease, go to:

Powassan Virus

Powassan (POW) virus is transmitted to humans by infected ticks. Approximately 60 cases of POW virus disease were reported in the United States over the past 10 years. Most cases have occurred in the Northeast and Great Lakes region. Signs and symptoms of infection can include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures, and memory loss. Long-term neurologic problems may occur. There is no specific treatment, but people with severe POW virus illnesses often need to be hospitalized to receive respiratory support, intravenous fluids, or medications to reduce swelling in the brain.

You can reduce your risk of being infected with POW virus by using tick repellents, wearing long sleeves and pants, avoiding bushy and wooded areas, and doing thorough tick checks on people and pets after spending time outdoors. If you think you or a family member may have POW virus disease, it is important to consult your healthcare provider.

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Fleas and Ticks

They’re creepy, they’re crawly…and they can carry diseases. Fleas and ticks are not just a nuisance, but pose animal and human health risks. They suck your pet’s blood, they suck human blood, and can transmit diseases.  Some of the diseases that fleas and ticks can transmit from animals to humans (zoonotic diseases) include plague, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, bartonellosis and others.  That’s why it’s critical to protect your pets from these pesky parasites and keep the creepy crawlies out of your home.

Fortunately, veterinarians recommend many effective flea and tick preventives on the market to help control the pests and prevent the spread of zoonotic diseases. Knowing what kind of product to use, and how to use it, is critical to the health and safety of your pet. Many are spot-on (topical) products that are applied directly to your pet’s skin, but there are some that are given orally (by mouth). Although medicines and pesticides must meet U.S. government-required safety standards before they can be sold, it is still critical that pet owners carefully consider their flea and tick preventive options (and closely read the label) before they treat their pets with one of these products.

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Dog Tick Checks

Perform tick checks after your dog has been outside. Even if you have not been away from home, your dog is still going outside in the yard. In endemic areas, tick checks must be done daily, within a few hours after being outside. The Ixodes tick that carries Lyme disease is never larger than the size of an eraser on a No. 2 pencil, even after feeding. Ticks are very small, making them very hard to find during a tick check, which is why tick checks are seldom 100 percent effective. However, the slow transmission of the bacteria after the initial tick bite creates a window of opportunity for you to remove ticks before the disease is transmitted.