Ticks in the Southeast

Attachment sites of four tick species parasitizing humans in Georgia and South Carolina.

From June 1995 through January 1998, 677 tick specimens were submitted by 521 humans from 14 states. Analysis was limited to specimens originating in Georgia and South Carolina, representing 87.3% of total submissions. Attachment sites were specified in 367 specimens (62.3%). The American dog tick, Dermacentor variabilis (Say), a vector of the agent of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, favored the head and neck in 59% of attached specimens. The lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum (L.), a strongly implicated vector of the agent of human monocytic ehrlichiosis, favored the lower extremities, buttocks, and groin in 54% of specimens. The blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis Say, the main eastern vector of the Lyme disease spirochete, had widely distributed attachment sites with no apparent site preference. The Gulf Coast tick, A. maculatum Koch, parasitized humans in too few instances for analysis. In the southeastern United States, prevention of tick bites and tickborne illnesses such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, and Lyme disease may be enhanced by personal practices and public health measures based on knowledge of preferred attachment sites of potentially infectious tick species.

 Source: Department of Family Medicine, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta 30912, USA.

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