Health Services

Ticks

Tick Transmitted Diseases - A tick bite may cause a person to become sick. Learn about the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness (STARI) and tularemia. Read about the important things you can do to prevent tick bites and the proper way to remove a tick.

Ticks require a blood meal 3 times in their two-year life cycle. Ticks will attach to your skin and feed for 2-7 days depending on the tick’s stage. Studies have shown that the tick must stay on the body for 36 hours to transmit disease. As a result, protective measures and prompt tick removal is essential in reducing your risk of infection.


 

Blacklegged Ticks (also known as Deer Ticks) (Ixodes scapularis)

typically transmit Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis and Powassan virus.


Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia borgdorferi. A characteristic sign of Lyme disease is a red circular rash (bull’s-eye rash) that may appear a few days to a month, at the site of the bite, after being bitten by an infected tick. Multiple rashes may develop. About 60-80% of people who get Lyme disease develop a bull’s-eye rash. Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, fatigue, stiff neck and muscle/joint pain, are also common in early Lyme disease. If left untreated, Lyme disease can cause complications such as recurring swollen and painful joints, temporary facial paralysis or heart problems.

Lyme Disease Information from New York State Department of Health

Lyme Disease Information from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)


Babesiosis is a rare and sometimes deadly disease caused by the protozoan Babesia microti. The disease can cause fever, fatigue and anemia (low red blood cell levels) lasting from days to months. It may take from 1-8 weeks for symptoms to appear.

CDC Babesiosis Information


Anaplasmosis is caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilia and may cause flu-like symptoms 1-3 weeks after the bite of an infected tick. Infection usually produces mild to moderately severe illness, with high fever and headache, but may occasionally be life-threatening or even fatal.

CDC Anaplasmosis Information


Powassan Virus is named after Powassan, Ontario, where it was first discovered in 1958. Signs and symptoms of infection can include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness,confusion, seizures, and memory loss. Long-term neurologic problems may occur.

CDC Powassan Virus Information


 

Lone Star Ticks (Amblyomma americanum)

typically transmit ehrlichiosis, tularemia and Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness (STARI).


Ehrlichiosis is caused by the bacterium Ehrlichia chaffeensis and is similar in many ways to anaplasmosis.

CDC Ehrlichiosis Information


Tularemia is caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. Within 2 weeks, symptoms appear which include swollen lymph glands and a skin ulcer at the site of the bite of an infected tick.

CDC Tularemia Information 


Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI) is thought to be caused by the bacterium Borrelia lonestari and is similar to Lyme disease. Individuals infected with STARI may develop flu-like symptoms and a bull’s-eye rash. However, STARI itself does not appear to be serious or potentially fatal.

CDC STARI Information


 

 American Dog Ticks (Dermacentor variabilis)

typically transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia.


Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is caused by the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii. RMSF is characterized by a sudden onset of moderate to high fever (which can last for 2-3 weeks), severe headache, fatigue, deep muscle pain, chills and rash, which begins on the legs/feet or arms/hands, and may spread rapidly to the rest of the body.  Symptoms usually appear within 2 weeks of the bite of an infected tick.

CDC Rocky Mountain spotted fever Information


Tularemia is caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. Within 2 weeks, symptoms appear which include swollen lymph glands and a skin ulcer at the site of the bite of an infected tick.

CDC Tularemia Information

 


Additional Information

Video Tips to Avoid Tick Bites

Tick Encounter Resource Center – Information from the University of Rhode Island

How to Establish a Tick-borne Disease Prevention Program – Information from the Connecticut Department of Public Health (pdf)

CDC TickNet - Information from the Centers for Disease Control

Tick-borne Diseases – Information from Massachusetts State Department of Health and Human Services

CDC Tick Manual - Information from the Centers for DiseaseControl (pdf)

CDC Division of Vector-Borne Disease - Information from the Centers for Disease Control

Lyme Disease and Other Diseases Carried by Ticks - Information from New York State Department of Health

Tick Management Handbook by Kirby C. Stafford III, PhD (pdf File)

Recognizing and Avoiding Tick-borne Illness– Information from Harvard Medical School

Lyme and Tick-borne Disease Research Center – Information from Columbia University Medical Center

Wisconsin Ticks and Tick-borne Disease – Information from the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Life Cycle and Identification of Ticks – Information from the Centers for Disease Control