If you have type A blood, the second most common type in the UK, then, you may want to take extra precautions to protect yourself from ticks. New research from the University of Masaryk in the Czech Republic reveals that ticks have a preference for blood type A!
Lead researcher Alena Zakovska, commented: “The blood group of an individual can be one of the factors that increase the risk of tick bite and therefore the transmission of dangerous diseases.”
Dr Zakovska’s experiment saw a drop of blood of every blood type - A, B, AB or O - applied to a sterile layer of filter paper on a petri dish. An Ixodes ricinus tick was then placed in the petri dish and after two minutes Dr Zakovska and her colleagues noted where the tick had moved to.
The experiment was repeated hundreds of times using different ticks to reveal that 36% of ticks preferred type A blood. The researchers also noted that ticks will avoid blood group B.
Meat allergies and ticks
Even more bizarre is mammalian meat allergy or MMA. This is a real medical condition and one that has become increasingly prevalent in tick endemic areas of Australia and the USA. Following a tick bite some individuals develop a severe allergic reaction to red meat including pork.
The tick in question in Australia is the paralysis tick Ixodes holocyclus whilst in the USA the allergy is associated with the Lone Star tick, Amblyomma americanum. There have also been documented cases in Germany and Sweden, the later associated with Ixodes ricinus.
The link was first identified in 2007 since when the cases of MMA have grown. Estimates suggest over 5,000 cases in the USA alone. Read more about MMA here.
Allergic reactions to red meat following tick bites are increasing
Ticks were featured in Issue 57
Covered by Pest
Ticks made the front cover of the most recent edition of Pest magazine and with good reason.
They may not be a foe that pest professionals are called upon to control in the UK but they are a pest that all of us who enjoy spending time outdoors in the countryside and parks need to be aware of. The Lyme disease they transmit can be life changing as the well documented cases of many celebrity infections underline. In a recent interview (1 August 2018) for Sky News, former England rugby international, Matt Dawson, explained the impact of Lyme disease on his life since he was bitten in a west London park in 2016.
Although diagnosis was swift, the 45-year-old has had several operations after the disease damaged his heart. He is now on daily medication has to have regular check-ups and cannot do any hard exercise that will raise his heart rate.
He said: "It's been a life-changer for me. My kids can't hide behind the door and come out and scare me because you don't want to be shocking the heart."