Bug Blog

Are Disease-Carrying Ticks An Issue In Arizona?

Arizona may be crawling with all sorts of creepy spiders and insects, but ticks are not typically associated with arachnid pests in the state. Most people are aware that ticks and tick-borne disease is a major problem in the northeastern region of the United States where the climate is warm and humid during the summer. In this region, ticks dwell within wooded areas and in regions containing fields of tall grass. Considering their usual vegetation-rich habitat, one would think that ticks would be unheard of within Arizona’s dry desert climate. However, this is not necessarily the case, as numerous people have contracted tick-borne disease after sustaining a tick bite within the state. Also, experts have good reason to believe that the rate of tick borne-disease cases in Arizona will increase in the coming years.

The tick-borne disease known as Rocky Mountain spotted fever is the most commonly contracted tick-borne disease in Arizona. Although less than a dozen cases of this disease are reported each year within the state, other tick-borne diseases are beginning to emerge in Arizona. For years, Arizona public health officials have been hesitant to declare the existence of tick-borne lyme disease within the state, and many health publications claim that lyme disease has never been contracted within the state of Arizona. However, back in 1998, a woman, Tina Garcia, who later became the Founder and President of the Lyme Education Awareness Program (L.E.A.P.), allegedly contracted both lyme disease and ehrlichiosis from a single tick bite in Cordes Junction, Arizona. However, due to the difficulty in diagnosing lyme disease, and the difficulties involved with tracking disease-carrying tick populations in the US, many public health centers still refuse to admit to the existence of lyme-carrying ticks in Arizona.

In addition to the confirmed emergence of Rocky Mountain spotted fever and the alleged cases of lyme disease in Arizona, tick-borne relapsing fever is a concern to public health officials within Coconino County. Several Flagstaff residents and a few individuals living near the Grand Canyon have contracted this disease from soft ticks in the area. Residents of Arizona should be on the lookout for ticks, especially while hiking in higher altitude locations in the state. Ticks are also known to emerge in large numbers within the state during monsoon season.

Do you think that lyme-carrying ticks exist within Arizona?