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Answer:

Larval tick bites

This person encountered larval Lone Star ticks. These larvae are very active this time of year in the southeastern/mid-Atlantic regions of the US, and the range of the Lone Star tick is expanding north and westward. Egg batches can contain 1,500 or more tiny ticks that tend to swarm, leading to numerous bites on unlucky hosts, sometimes hundreds. This TickSpotter reported picking ticks off for 5-6 hours! The good news is that Lone Star ticks hatch from eggs free of disease, however along with other stages of this tick they have recently been found to sometimes induce an allergy to red meat, which can range from hives to a full-blown anaphylactic reaction. Because of the number of bites this patient received, he may have been displaying a widespread allergic reaction to proteins in the ticks’ saliva.

You can avoid encounters with larval ticks by spraying your shoes and socks with permethrin, and remove loose and wandering ticks before they attach with sticky duct tape or a lint roller. A good pair of pointy tweezers are a must for any tick removal once it’s attached. If you do encounter any tick, be sure to snap a picture of it and send it to us at TickSpotters for identification and best next actions to take.

Disclaimer: Following this advice is considered best practice but TERC cannot guarantee that a person following this advice will not contract a tick-transmitted infection.