Tick-borne Diseases: Information for the Public

January 23, 2015

Ticks transmit pathogens that cause disease through the process of feeding. 

  • Depending on the tick species and its stage of life, preparing to feed can take from 10 minutes to 2 hours.

  • When the tick finds a feeding spot, it grasps the skin and cuts into the surface then inserts its feeding tube.

  • Many species also secrete a cement-like substance that keeps them firmly attached during the meal. The feeding tube can have barbs which help keep the tick in place.

  • Ticks also secrete small amounts of saliva with anesthetic properties so that the animal or person can't feel that the tick has attached itself. If the tick is in a sheltered spot, it can go unnoticed.

  • A tick will suck the blood slowly for several days. If the host animal has a bloodborne infection, the tick will ingest the pathogens with the blood.

  • Small amounts of saliva from the tick may also enter the skin of the host animal during the feeding process. If the tick contains a pathogen, the organism may be transmitted to the host animal in this way.

  • After feeding, most ticks will drop off and prepare for the next life stage. At its next feeding, it can then transmit an acquired disease to the new host.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Page last updated 11/20/2017