Tick next to pencil, taken 5-19-19
Image by Ashley Russell
Tick Yard Picture from Illustrator
Image by Ashley Russell

Ticks & Tick Borne Disease

Tick species have become a growing concern in the United States. Tick species and their associated diseases vary by location and region. It is important to be aware of ticks and the signs of the diseases they carry. 

Information on ticks and tickborne disease is continually found and published by the Center for Disease Control, in order to stay up to date with the most recent information visit their website; The Center for Disease Control Tick Home Page

Signs & Symptoms of Tickborne Disease

There are a number of known tick borne diseases common in the North East and many have the same signs and symptoms with varying extremeness. There is no single identifying symptom, all the diseases have similar flue like symptoms. The only exception is Powassan, which causes the brain to swell. The most common symptoms of tick related illness are:

  • Fever/chills: all tickborne diseases cause fevers at varying degrees and times of onset
  • Aches and Pains: symptoms include fatigue, headaches, muscle aches. With Lyme disease, people have also experienced joint pain.
  • Rash: different diseases can result in distinctive rashes, for example the Lyme disease rash is recognized by the ‘bullseye’ rash. It is often the first sign of infection, but occurs in only 70-80% of infected persons. 

Common Tickborne Diseases in the Northeast

Lyme Disease: Bacteria

Lyme is a bacterial infection that replicates in the blood stream nerves, and can be treated by antibiotics. Sometimes recognized for the bullseye rash it creates. It presents differently in most people. Transmission generally occurs within 24 to 48 hours of being bitten.

Anaplasmosis: Bacteria

Signs and symptoms of anaplasmosis typically begin within 1–2 weeks after the bite of an infected tick. Early treatment with the antibiotic doxycycline can prevent severe illness or death.

Babesiosis: Parasite

Caused by microscopic parasites that infect red blood cells and are spread by certain ticks, typically in the nymph stage. Some people develop flu-like symptoms and some have none. Treatment is available, but is generally not necessary in people without symptoms.

Ehrlichiosis: Bacteria

Ehrlichiosis is the general name used to describe diseases caused by the bacteria Ehrlichia chaffeensis, E. ewingii, or E. muris eauclairensis in the United States. The majority of reported cases are due to infection with E. chaffeensis.

Powassan: Virus

Many infected do not develop any symptoms. It takes 1 week to 1 month for symptoms to develop after being bit. Symptoms can include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, loss of coordination, speech difficulties, and seizures. Approximately half of survivors have permanent neurological symptoms, such as recurrent headaches, muscle wasting and memory problems. There is death in 1 of 5 reported cases.

Last updated October 1, 2019