Tick-borne diseases are well known to be a serious public health threat in the northeast United States, which is where the greatest number of tick-borne diseases can be transmitted to humans, but the bloosucking arachnids are not usually associated with the desert southwest. However, Arizona is home to 25 tick species, including the brown dog tick, which is the only tick capable of infesting homes. Unfortunately, Arizona is located within a small geographic region where the brown dog tick can also transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever to humans. In all other US regions, the brown dog tick can only transmit diseases to dogs. In Arizona, scorpions and disease-spreading mosquitoes pose a more significant public health threat than ticks, but surprisingly, a total of five tick-borne diseases have been documented as occurring within Arizona, but only two are considered a growing threat to residents.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is the most common tick-borne disease in Arizona, as it accounts for more than 60 percent of all cases of tick-borne diseases in the state. The second most common tick-borne disease in the state is tick-borne relapsing fever, but this disease is considered very rare in Arizona. Most informational websites, including the Arizona Cooperative Extension website, only mention the above named tick-borne diseases as being transmitted by ticks in Arizona. This is because the other three tick-borne diseases that have been documented as having been transmitted to humans in the state are considered too rare to be of concern to residents.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common tick-borne disease in the US, lyme disease, has been transmitted to humans in Arizona. The CDC has also documented a few cases of tick-borne tularemia as occurring in Arizona. The last of the five tick-borne diseases that have been transmitted to humans in the Arizona is Rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis, which is similar to Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Only 40 human cases of this disease have been documented within the US, and the tick species that is responsible for spreading the disease in Arizona, A. triste, was discovered in the state for the first time only recently. Many public health professionals consider this disease to be a growing threat in the state. Experts debate whether or not lyme disease can be transmitted to humans in Arizona. Some experts dismiss past lyme cases among residents of Arizona as occurring elsewhere in the US before the residents returned to the state. Others claim that lyme was transmitted within the state. In any case, tick-borne diseases are rarely transmitted to humans in Arizona, but the number of cases continue to grow with each passing year in the state.
Are you concerned about the possibility of sustaining bites from disease-carrying ticks in Arizona?