Editorial: These woodland vampires can host scary diseases | OUR … – Richmond.com

When the subject of ticks comes up, a country club in a Washington suburb doesnt come to mind as a potential problem area. And yet, at a recent wedding reception in that tony setting, a guest discreetly rubbed a prickly spot on her head only to find a tick busily embedding itself in her scalp. In 2017, the creepy little bloodsuckers seem to be everywhere.

Experts say this tick season, especially throughout the northern United States, is proving to be a doozy. And with the increased numbers of these woodland vampires come raised fears of a growing host of vector-borne diseases with frightening symptoms.

While were all familiar with Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, chances are increasing that ticks in the mid-Atlantic area may also carry a host of other infectious diseases, including a scary new pathogen called the Powussun virus. The virus, primarily found in deer ticks (also the prime carrier of Lyme disease), can lead to encephalitis, or swelling of the brain, and kills about 10 percent of people who contract it. The number of cases diagnosed in the U.S. remains relatively small, and efforts are underway to keep it from becoming a greater threat.

The four most common ticks in Virginia that humans are likely to encounter are the lone star tick, the American dog tick, the brown tick, and the deer tick. The deer tick tends to be the least common of the four, but recently it has begun to spread into many suburban areas. Anyone who spends much time outdoors may want to learn to identify local tick species. Should you start feeling poorly after being bitten and decide to visit a doctor, knowing what bit you can aid significantly in an early diagnosis.

Follow a few simple precautions when outdoors. Stay clear of tall grass and dense vegetation. Wear light-colored clothing so ticks can be easily seen. Tuck pant legs into socks and use tick repellents. Be sure to check children for ticks regularly.

Or, you may just prefer to stay indoors all summer.

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Editorial: These woodland vampires can host scary diseases | OUR … – Richmond.com

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