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Video: How Ticks Chain-Saw Into Your Skin To Suck Your Blood

This article is more than 8 years old.

Sometimes I appall myself. I know perfectly well what a huge health problem Lyme disease is, infecting 300,000 Americans a year at latest count. WBUR did a series on it; I've been reading every word of the excellent Boston Globe series now under way. And yet, I repeatedly fail to check myself after outdoor hikes that could expose me to the ticks that carry the disease, even though I also know that if the ticks are removed promptly, that prevents transmission of Lyme.

So I made myself watch the entire wonderfully grisly science video that The New York Times just posted: How Does A Tick Do Its Dirty Work? Research Video Offers A Clue.

It shows ticks using a proboscis-like appendage whose resemblance to a chainsaw seems quite timely on the eve of Halloween. And the text by James Gorman begins with this ghoulish lead:

Chain saws, hockey masks and the undead are all classic symbols of horror. But for a true shiver of dread, take a look at a tick.
When seen with an electron microscope, a tick’s mouth has what look like twin saws (chelicerae) flanking an appendage (a hypostome) that appears to be the kind of long, barbed sword that a villain in a video game might favor.

The Times also links to a paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society detailing those nefarious tick methods. Personally, I'm thinking the video alone will be enough to change my ways. Readers?
(H/T Tom Anthony)

This program aired on October 30, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.

Carey Goldberg Twitter Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.