Lyme Disease Awareness Month

A sign of beware of ticks and 2 people in the park

Lyme disease is an infection spread by the bite of ticks that cause more than 30,000 illnesses each year in the United States

It is the most commonly occurring vector-borne disease and the sixth most commonly reported notifiable infectious disease.

In the U.S., the Western black–legged tick and the deer tick can carry Lyme disease bacteria.

Tick season is in full swing right now. In May tick nymphs – the second stage of the tick lifecycle, will join the full grown male and females, making May and June have the highest number of ticks ready to attach on, potentially spreading their infections onward.

Where Found

Lyme disease is most frequently reported from the Upper Midwestern and northeastern United States. Some cases are also reported in northern California, Oregon, and Washington

In 2015, 95% of Lyme disease cases were reported from 14 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Typical symptoms 

The first sign of infection is often a circular skin rash, called erythema migrans. Other early symptoms may also include fever, headache, and fatigue. If left untreated, the infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. If you have symptoms or are worried you may be suffering from Lyme Disease, see your doctor

How Long Does A Tick Need to Be Attached Before It Can Spread Infection?

Depending on the type of tick and germ, the amount of time that a tick needs to be attached to you will vary. It can take anywhere from minutes to days to infect you.

Your risk for Lyme disease is very low if a tick has been attached for fewer than 36 hours. Check for ticks daily and remove them as soon as possible.

Only Deer Ticks Transmit Lyme Disease Bacteria

The only way to get Lyme disease is by being bitten by a deer tick or one of its “cousins” found around the world.

Deer ticks also are known as blacklegged ticks in the U.S., sheep ticks in Europe, or Taiga ticks in Asia.

Dog ticks, Lone star ticks and other types of ticks don’t seem to be able to transmit Lyme disease, but may carry other infections.

While that’s good news, it makes saving any tick that you find biting more important so you can identify it. Doing so may save a lot of unnecessary visits and treatments from your doctor.

How Ticks Spread Disease

Ticks transmit pathogens that cause disease through the process of feeding.

  • Depending on the tick species and its stage of life, preparing to feed can take from 10 minutes to 2 hours. When the tick finds a feeding spot, it grasps the skin and cuts into the surface.
  • The tick then inserts its feeding tube. Many species also secrete a cement-like substance that keeps them firmly attached during the meal. The feeding tube can have barbs which help keep the tick in place.
  • Ticks also can secrete small amounts of saliva with anesthetic properties so that the animal or person can’t feel that the tick has attached itself. If the tick is in a sheltered spot, it can go unnoticed.
  • A tick will suck the blood slowly for several days. If the host animal has a bloodborne infection, the tick will ingest the pathogens with the blood.
  • Small amounts of saliva from the tick may also enter the skin of the host animal during the feeding process. If the tick contains a pathogen, the organism may be transmitted to the host animal in this way.
  • After feeding, most ticks will drop off and prepare for the next life stage. At its next feeding, it can then transmit an acquired disease to the new host.


People treated with appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely.

Antibiotics commonly used for oral treatment include doxycycline, amoxicilllin, or cefuroxime axetil.

Preventing Tick Bites 

Tick Bites and Tick-Borne Diseases Are Completely Preventable. There’s really only one way you get a tick-transmitted disease and that’s from a tick bite.

Reducing tick abundance in your yard where you spend a lot of time, wearing tick repellent clothing every day, treating pets every month with tick repellent spot-on products, getting into a habit of doing a quick body scan for attached poppy-seed sized or larger ticks, and pulling ticks off quickly and safely are all great actions for preventing tick bites.

These days, ticks are more than just an annoyance. One bite can make you sick, even change your life! Preventing bites from ticks is the first defense against Lyme disease and other diseases they may transmit.

Treat Clothing and Gear

You can treat your gear and clothing with sprays that will bind the fabric and make it harder for ticks to attach on. Products containing 0.5% permethrin are best for preventing unwanted tick attachment during this camping season.

Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing and camping gear and remain protective through several washings. Alternatively, you can buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.

Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-Registered Insect Repellents

Containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanoate. EPA’s helpful search tool external icon can help you find the product that best suits your needs.

Always follow product instructions. Do not use products containing OLE or PMD on children under 3 years old.

Finding A Repellent That Is Right for You

Insect repellents are pesticides. Products labeled as repellents are not designed to eliminate pests. For example, in the case of the skin-applied repellents, the product makes people less attractive to the pest.

Use this search tool to help you choose the repellent product that is right for you. You can specify:

  • mosquitoes, ticks or both;
  • protection time;
  • active ingredient; or
  • other product-specific information.

Avoid Contact with Ticks

  • Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Walk in the center of trails.
  • Check Your Clothing for Ticks.
  • Examine Gear and Pets.
  • Shower Soon After Being Outdoors.
  • Check Your Body for Ticks After Being Outdoors.

The Easiest and Safest Way to Remove A Tick Is with A Pointy Tweezer

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as you can.
  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick.
  3. After removing the tick, clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
  4. Dispose of the tick by flushing it down the toilet. If you would like to bring the tick to your healthcare provider for identification, put it in a sealed bag or container full of rubbing alcohol.


What to Avoid

Do not try to:

Burn or smother with petroleum jelly, nail polish, gasoline, or rubbing alcohol, while the tick is attached to your skin.

Smothering or burning a tick could make it release fluid—which could be infected—into your body and increase your chance of infection.



This article is sponsored by . This article contains medical information provided to help you better understand this particular medical condition or process, and may contain information about medication often used as part of a treatment plan prescribed by a doctor.  It is not intended to be used as either a diagnosis or recommendation for treatment of your particular medical situation.  If you are unwell, concerned about your physical or mental state, or are experiencing symptoms you should speak with your doctor or primary health care provider. If you are in medical distress please contact emergency services (such as 911). 

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