When we imagine Hawaii, we imagine a paradise. Pristine beaches, beautiful woodlands, clear skies, and amazing panoramas.
However, no tropical paradise is wholly without its problems, and Hawaii has a few.
I’m not talking about social or economic concerns this time, no, we are talking about tiny issues, often no bigger than your little finger nail.
Insects, yep, everywhere has got them and a lot of the time the most annoying ones live in the most beautiful places. It just makes sense.
If you think a place is a wonderful area to visit or live, then an insect will probably think the same thing. One of the worst of these insects is ticks.
The bloodsucking, little parasites love to hitch a ride on people and drain them of blood. They also can carry a lot of diseases, so bad news all round for those bitten by them.
This being the case, you wouldn’t want to wander around in tick infested woodlands without knowing or proper protection.
Therefore, we seek to answer the important question for all Hawaiian holiday goers about whether there are ticks on the Hawaiian islands.
Ticks In Hawaii
So to answer the question: Yes, there are ticks in Hawaii, but not that many, and they are not really a bother most of the time.
There are two types of ticks found in Hawaii: the Brown Dog Tick and the Spinose Ear Tick.
Brown Dog Tick
This particular species of tick was first discovered in Hawaii in 1882 during an expedition into Haleakala Crater.
The tick was later found out to be the Brown Dog Tick, which is one of the most common and widespread of the tick family around the world.
Brown Dog Ticks are (like all ticks) arachnids – and close relatives of spiders – which have adapted to feed on mammals specifically, including humans.
They latch onto a host body and immediately begin sucking blood from their hosts to feed themselves.
In fact, at all three stages of their life cycle – larvae, nymphs, and adult bodies – they can attach themselves to a host, feeding until they have all the required nutrients to transform into the next stage of their evolution.
They are most commonly found in warm climates with heavy rainfall, but are also found in colder climes, just in fewer numbers.
Since Hawaii is a tropical paradise with constant heavy rainfall, finding them here is a given.
Spinose Ear Tick
Like the Brown Dog Tick, these ticks can be found worldwide, though unlike their cousins, it is not a natural phenomenon.
Actually, these ticks are normally found natively in semi-arid areas of the Southwestern United States, but due to the transport of livestock – namely cows and horses – these ticks have spread all over.
Unlike the brown dog tick, spinose ear ticks do not generally bite humans, primarily sticking to the livestock that they infest.
Instead, when they find a suitable host, they burrow into the skin near the ears and feed on the nerves.
If left untreated, the life cycle of the tick can last anywhere between 6 months to a 1 year, depending on the temperature and weather conditions.
They can survive long periods of time without a host and only really need one until their adult stage, as adults do not feed, but absorb water from the surrounding air.
Lyme Disease In Hawaii
It’s important to note that although there are ticks in Hawaii, they are not the type that typically causes Lyme disease.
The reason for this is that Lyme disease is mostly transmitted through a specific kind of tick – the deer tick.
However, with the constant travel between the USA and Hawaii, along with the transportation of animals and products, means that cases of Lyme disease have occurred in Hawaii.
These cases are at a far lower level than nationally, but it is essential to be aware that they can happen.
It is particularly critical to know the symptoms when on holiday in Hawaii, as the doctors of the state have less familiarity with the disease than those on the mainland – due to a lack of exposure.
How To Protect Yourself Against Ticks
To keep ticks away from your body, use repellent which contains DEET. You can also take advantage of clothing, since it doesn’t allow ticks to get anywhere near your skin.
While wearing long sleeves and pants helps prevent ticks from getting onto your skin, make sure they don’t get inside your clothes at all.
If you’re going out for a walk, check yourself over before leaving to ensure no ticks are clinging to your skin.
When walking barefoot, try to avoid grassy areas, especially if it’s wet. Also, avoid standing directly next to bushes or tall trees.
This way, you can stop any ticks that might have gotten stuck to your skin from moving further up your legs.
If you’ve been bitten by a tick, remove it immediately. It’s best to cut it off using tweezers or a pair of clean scissors.
Then, wash thoroughly with soap and water. If you notice signs of redness in your skin, see a doctor right away.
As mentioned above, Lyme disease is extremely contagious. So, it’s imperative to seek medical attention when you discover a tick on your body.
Tick Borne Diseases
Lyme disease: In addition to being highly contagious, Lyme disease can lead to serious health problems such as arthritis, neurological damage, heart issues, and kidney failure.
Symptoms usually appear within 4 weeks after exposure to an infected tick. For most patients, treatment consists of two antibiotics given intravenously for 2–4 weeks.
Side effects may develop during treatment, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, fever, muscle aches, chills, rash, and fatigue.
Babesiosis: Babesia parasites are spread by ticks. After the tick bites its host, it injects into the bloodstream of the person.
Infection occurs when the parasite enters the bloodstream.
Symptoms typically occur 7–10 days after contact with the tick. Early symptoms are flu-like, such as fever, chills, malaise, headache, myalgia (muscle pain), and fatigue.
Later symptoms include jaundice, abdominal discomfort, vomiting, and confusion. Antibiotics are used to treat babesiosis.
Ehrlichiosis: Ehrlichiosis is a bacterial infection. Most people who become infected with ehrlichiosis do not show symptoms.
However, some people experience flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, tiredness, weakness, and joint pain.
Other symptoms may include stomach pain, backache, sore throat, cough, and shortness of breath. Antibiotics are prescribed for treatment.
Anaplasmosis: Anaplasma phagocytophilum is a bacterium that causes anaplasmosis. Like other Rickettsial diseases, anaplasmosis is transmitted by blood feeding arthropods (insects).
The bacteria are found in the cytoplasm of neutrophils and macrophages. An infection results in fevers, headaches, stiff neck, and sometimes rashes. Treatment includes antibiotic therapy.
Ticks exist in almost every place on earth, and they are resilient enough to make the journey across oceans to places like Hawaii.
However, they appear there in much lower numbers and as much fewer species than anywhere else in our country, so if you are worried about getting ticks on your holiday, it is best not to and to just take precautions.
After all, the likelihood of you getting a tick on one of the islands is slim to none.