05 July 2008

An 8-legged souvenir from Illinois: lone star tick

Yesterday, Megan Paustian, Jeff Nekola and I drove from the American Malacological Society meeting in Carbondale, Illinois to the airport in St. Louis, Missouri. Along the way, we stopped at the Pyramid State Park in Illinois for a quick look at the local snails. This was followed by an ice cream lunch at a Dairy Queen. After we returned to our car at the DQ parking lot, Megan found a tick in the car; one of us had undoubtedly picked it up at the park. I noticed the white spot on its back and identified it tentatively as a lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) before throwing out the window. We didn't think of checking our bodies for more.

About 12 hours later back at home in Maryland, I was undressing to take a shower when I noticed a dark spot on my leg where none had been before. Sure enough, it was a tick gorging itself on my pure blood.


After the photo session, I removed the tick into a vial of alcohol. A quick search on the Internet identified it as a male lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum), which doesn't have the female's white spot (more info).

The lone star tick carries the microorganism that causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever and its bite may also cause something called southern tick-associated rash illness. I am hoping for the best.

My previous tick story (and Neil Young concert review) was here. I am sure there will be others in the future.


Tristram Brelstaff said...

I picked one up last week, but I think yours is much prettier than mine was.

Katie said...

I have a knack of picking up ticks on my hiking trips as well (although somehow I manage to get them off before they latch onto me).

Frank Anderson said...

Thanks for visiting southern Illinois, and thanks for removing one of our ticks!

I've had a couple of lone stars. They are the worst -- much longer mouthparts than deer ticks, so they can be a hassle to remove completely. I have yet to come down with any diseases from my encounters, though. Fortunately ticks don't seem to like me as much as they do my wife and daughter (or most other people, for that matter).

Hope you enjoyed your time in Carbondale and had a good trip home (other than discovering your new little friend, of course...).

xoggoth said...

Re your previous tick incident, ticks can carry Lyme disease in the UK too.

Thought it was rare and confined to New Forest but from the net, one can catch it even in urban parks or gardens! We have two other tick borne diseases that look even worse and you can catch all three from one tick!

I wish I had not looked on here today.