Of the approximately 900 species found throughout the world, only a select few are known to bite and transmit disease to humans. Within the US there are approximately 84 known species ticks, 44 have been recorded as ectoparasites of humans. Ticks transmit more kinds of disease agents than any other kind of arthropod vector and are increasingly being found to harbor more than one pathogen; they are then capable of transmitting multiple diseases in a single bite. Tick bites may also transmit disease to pets, livestock and wildlife.
In addition to being vectors of infection to both humans and animals, ticks can cause, potentially fatal, ”tick paralysis” via toxins in their saliva to both humans and other animals, as well as red meat allergies, “Alpha-gal” in humans.
Twenty-five species of ticks are currently known to occur Colorado, a state that uniquely serves as the namesake for a widely known tick-borne disease, Colorado tick fever. Coloradans may additionally be exposed to other ticks species when they travel out of state or country where prevalence of ticks and tick disease may be even greater.
Distribution of ticks and prevalence has been expanding throughout the US and worldwide, where many tick species have been recorded outside of their known distributional range in recent years. It is important to take preventive measures to avoid tick bites regardless of where you may live, work, recreate or travel!