In spite of what you might think, something as little and as common as a tick can bring big trouble to farm animals and human hosts alike. Perhaps you have been bitten before by a burrowing tick and were lucky enough to dislodge it without complication and to avoid any viral or bacterial infection of consequence.

But each year the livestock industry is adversely affected by animal health diseases and a substantial number of human tickborne diseases are reported in the U.S., occasionally resulting in mortality.

In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, tick diseases are on the rise not only in the U.S. but worldwide. Researchers are quick to point out that some of the sharp rises in tick disease cases could be due to better counting and diagnostic tests. But nearly all experts agree that risk for exposure to tickborne diseases is a consequence of contact between ticks and people because we're moving farther into woody areas, which are also accessible for people looking for recreation, outdoor sports and relaxation.

Most people have heard of Lyme disease, which has spread since discovery in the 1970s to over 35,000 U.S. cases per year. It’s not the only fast growing problem. Cases of a tickborne illness known as ehrlichiosis grew from 200 in 2000 to 957 nationwide in 2008, a 378 percent jump. And the infection anaplasmosis nearly tripled in the same period, while Rocky Mountain spotted fever quintupled. There is the new disease, STARI (southern tick-associated rash illness), which has spread across the South. In the Gulf and Pacific region, strains of an infection called rickettsiosis are becoming more common.

Even human cases of babesiosis is rising, along with other potential harmful diseases that make tick encounters even less desirable and less safe than ever before.