Tick – Picking: a Risky Business

From Issue: Discovery 5/1/2003

It was a Sunday morning at my grandmother’s house in Neosho, Missouri, when I awoke to find myself with a swollen stomach. Although I was not a skinny child, I knew that this swelling was not ordinary fatty tissue that builds up over time. Something was wrong. It looked like someone had taken an air pump and inflated the right side of my stomach overnight. I did what most kids do when they’re scared…I turned to “Superwoman” for help: “MOM! Come quick!” 

A short while later, we arrived at the doctor’s office. After telling the doctor that I had picked several ticks from my body the day before, including one that was big with a white spot on its back, he informed me that
I probably had
a case of tick fever.  A short while later, he assured me of such,and warned me to be careful the next time I go “tick-picking.”

To this day, ticks give me the creeps. (In fact, just writing this article made me start itching all over!) About 825 species of these bloodsucking critters exist in the world today. Some ticks are soft; some are hard. Many unfed male and female ticks are
less than 1/4-inch long. However, once female ticks attach to a host and feed for a few days, they can become twice their original size—about the size of
a small grape. (Male ticks remain about the same size after feeding.) One rare adult tick that lives in Africa can grow to be more than one inch long!

Fortunately, ticks do not run, jump, fly, or actively hunt people like certain insects do. Ticks just sit around on tall blades of grass or plant leaves and wait…and wait…and wait. Some ticks can go a wholeyear without finding a host. Others cling to a host very quickly. When an animal or person walks by, ticks let go of the vegetation and crawl onto the host.Once a tick attaches itself, it can damage its host (whether human or animal) by drawing out large amounts of blood, transmitting disease, or secreting poisons. Unfortunate-ly, ticks are very good carriers of disease because they attach firmly when sucking blood, they feed slowly, and they can go unseen for several days while feeding.

We know that ticks could not have evolved. Although we don’t know exactly why God created
parasites like ticks, we do know that He must have had a very good reason.

The best advice
I can give you about ticks is to get some bug spray and hope they stay OFF®
of you.


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