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Tick-borne Diseases

Lyme disease is the most common human disease transmitted by ticks in Livingston County, but many diseases are associated with our local ticks.

  • Anaplasmosis is a bacterial disease transmitted by deer ticks, the same ticks that transmit Lyme disease. Anaplasmosis causes fever, aches, nausea, and cough. Anaplasmosis does not usually cause a rash. If untreated, anaplasmosis can be fatal.
  • Babesiosis is a parasitic disease of the red blood cells. Babesiosis may not cause any symptoms in healthy people. If untreated, babesiosis can cause flu-like symtoms and anemia, especially in people with weak immune systems.
  • Erlichiosis is a bacterial disease transmitted by the Lone Star tick. Erlichiosis causes fever, headache, and fatigue. Erlichiosis causes a rash in about half the people infected, which may be confused with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
  • Powassan disease is a viral illness transmitted by deer ticks and groundhog ticks. Powassan disease can cause fever, vomiting, seizures, and long-term neurological damage. Viruses are not killed by antibiotics, but there may be treatment to manage some of these symptoms. Prevention is the only effective weapon against viruses!
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is a bacterial disease transmitted by the American dog tick. RMSF causes headache, fever, rash, abdominal pain, and redness of the eyes. Treatment is most effective if started early; RMSF can be fatal.
  • Tularemia is a bacterial disease that can be transmitted in many ways, including through the bite of infected American dog ticks and Lone Star ticks. When transmitted by ticks, the bacteria causes high fever, skin ulcers, and swollen lymph nodes. Tularemia can be fatal.

As the climate changes, ticks and infectious diseases can expand their range. Some emerging tick-borne diseases not yet known to have caused illness in our region are Heartland virus, Borrelia miyamotoi illness, and Southern tick-associated rash illness. 

The CDC has more information on these and other tick-borne diseases.