ND Department of Health looking for lone star tick

Published: Jun. 6, 2019 at 9:11 PM CDT
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The North Dakota Department of Health is asking for the public's help in finding a rare type of tick that can be dangerous to your health.

This summer, the NDDoH is looking for a new type of tick. It's called the lone star tick, named after its identifiable single white dot on its back. It is rare and possibly harmful.

"The tick attaches for a certain period of time and it has the bacteria of the disease that is transmitting in there, it can get inside a person and potentially cause illnesses,” said Michelle Dethloff, NDHoH program manager.

What makes it unique is its ability to spread disease to humans. Symptoms of bites include fever, body aches, nausea and rashes.

While it is uncommon in North Dakota, with only four confirmed cases in the last three years, identifying its population size can help avoid further harm to humans and pets.

"I don't think we can say that it's an established population in North Dakota, which is why we're running this program and asking citizens to help, so we can determine whether it's here or not," said Kristi Bullinger, microbiologist.

To avoid illness, they recommend to avoid walking through tall, poorly kept brush, wearing bug repellent with at least 20% deet, and checking clothing and skin after extended wilderness exposure.

"As we identify areas that have seen this tick, we can map that out and look and see if we need to do further surveillance," Dethloff said.

If you come into contact with this tick, remove it with rubbing alcohol and put the tick in a plastic bag. Then, send a picture and additional information to NDticks@nd.gov.

It is unclear how the tick migrated to North Dakota at this time. With the four confirmed cases since 2017, there is another case pending confirmation.