How Do Ticks ‘Stick’ To Our Skin?
Ever wondered how ticks get such a good grip of our skin when they bite us? That’s because they make their own type of ‘glue’ we guess you’d call it, that let’s them adhere firmly to their feast. The clever little critters create their own cement so that they can stay put while they feed. Here’s an article with more information.
Hard ticks—a family of 700 species that includes the Lyme-spreading deer tick—use pincer-like appendages and mouths to attach to a host’s skin. But sometimes this grip isn’t strong enough for the arachnid to hold on and feed while the host moves. Sylvia Nürnberger and colleagues discovered hard ticks have an extra tool to glom onto their hosts’ skin—a kind of glue made of proteins in their saliva.
This cement that they create could actually shine a little positive light on these disease spreading pests, because it could possibly be used as a medical adhesive. It works a little bit like and anesthetic too, so that when a tick bites it’s host they don’t feel it. This is good because we don’t get the pain, but very bad because we don’t know when we’re being bitten!
Could this discovery mean that ticks can help to save lives, instead of cause misery?
Although ticks are generally thought of as being the spreaders of illness, they may actually be able to help save peoples’ lives. According to a new study from the University of Oxford, proteins found in tick saliva could be used to treat a potentially fatal heart disease. The disease, myocarditis, typically strikes young adults. It occurs when the heart becomes infected due to a common virus. This causes it to release chemicals called chemokines, which attract cells that cause inflammation. As a result, the heart muscle becomes dangerously inflamed.
Of course, when it comes to a tick bite, tick prevention is better than cure. The number of tick borne illness is constantly on the rise, so there’s never a time to be complacent about the damage such a tiny arachnid can cause.