What does a tick bite do?
Have you ever wondered what happens when a tick bites you? You may not have, but as a former sufferer of Lyme disease and a health coach for people affected by Lyme disease and other tick borne illnesses, I think about tick bites A LOT. I wonder, how do they manage to get away with being so stealthy, biting and drinking blood and often being able to stay undetected for hours if not days.
The answer is in their saliva! Tick saliva is pretty amazing stuff. This article in The Atlantic explains it well “Ticks use saliva to manipulate the body of their hosts so their bites stay painless, itch-less, and as unobtrusive as a bug swelling with blood can be. Scientists have since cataloged more than 3,500 proteins from the saliva of various tick species.”
That is incredible! It is no wonder then, that along with those proteins there also comes so many different types of bacteria such as the bacteria that cause Lyme disease and a whole host of other co-infections.
Ticks have evolved these adaptations to enable them to feed for days at a time on a single host. They need to do this because most tick species only feed once during each stage in their life cycle and therefore go for years between feedings, meanwhile existing on their last meal.
Tick Saliva is complex
Tick saliva is complex, and fascinating. When a tick feeds it doesn’t suck blood out of blood vessels. Instead, one of the many enzymes in it’s saliva destroys a ring of tissue creating what is essentially a lake of blood that they can drink from at their leisure. Also included in the tick’s saliva are proteins that keep the blood from clotting, and specialized proteins that evade and counter the host body’s immune system. Diabolical!
But there may be a silver lining to the complexities and ingenuity of tick saliva. Scientists believe that they may be able to harness some of the properties within tick saliva and use them to help people suffering from certain conditions, such as the properties of tick saliva that inhibit pain and prevent blood clotting. Scientists are also studying how tick saliva makes pathways into the human immune system and are leveraging this research to better understand how HIV infects cells.
Someday maybe the very characteristics of tick saliva that make it so adept at harming us will help us heal diseases and perhaps detect tick bites and tick borne diseases earlier. Science is amazing!
This article was written by Lyme Support. We know living with Lyme disease is complicated and there is never one simple answer. 1-on-1 guidance and practical, cutting edge solutions make the healing journey so much easier. If you are ready to make health, happiness, and hope your new normal, reach out to us! We offer personalized health coaching using a functional medicine approach.
Lyme Support can also refer you to hospitals in Germany and Mexico offering advanced holistic Lyme protocols. For anyone struggling with tick borne illnesses, a hospital that treats the body as a whole can elevate you to a new level of normal. If you’d like more information about these specialized hospitals, we can help schedule you in and provide education on treatments.
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