Lyme Isn’t the Only Disease Ticks Are Spreading This Summer

Did you know that one tick may carry more than one disease, so sometimes people get more than one co-infection from the bite of a single tick.

Published 7/16/2017

Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne illness in the US. Approximately 20,000 new cases are reported to the CDC each year and the CDC acknowledges that 90% of cases go unreported.

But did you know that one tick may carry more than one disease, so sometimes people get more than one co-infection from the bite of a single tick. The same tick that carries the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, can also transmit other illnesses. The most common are Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Bartonella, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever (Rickettsia). Scientists recognize more than a dozen tick-borne diseases in the United States and new ones are still being discovered. It is estimated that up to 20% of the ticks with Lyme disease may have one of these other diseases.

The symptoms of these coinfections are often nonspecific – such as fever and headache – which makes diagnosis difficult and the treatments for each may be different.

The best way to prevent any tick-borne illness this summer is by taking the necessary precautions outlined below:

Prevent it

Avoid contact with wooded and bushy areas with high grass. Walk in the center of trails.

Repel it

The best protection you can achieve is by using a repellent, that contains 20 to 30% DEET (diethyltoluamide) for your skin and one that contains 0.5% Permethrin (a synthetic pesticide) on your clothes, shoes, and socks. As well as on gear like backpacks and tents. (Be sure to follow precautions on the package).

Find it

  •     Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full length mirror. Ticks do not wash off in the shower.
  •     Check children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, the belly button, behind the knees, legs, around the waist and especially in their hair.
  •     Ticks can hitch a ride home—don’t forget to check pets and gear such as backpacks.
  •     Dry clothes first—then wash. High heat for an hour will kill ticks.


Remove it

  •     In the absence of tweezers or a plastic tick spoon, use paper or cloth to protect the fingers during tick extraction.
  •     Do not squeeze, crush or puncture the body of the tick, since its fluids may contain infectious agents.


Using fine-tipped tweezers

If you find a tick, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Firmly grasp the tick as close to its head as possible, and pull gently, using slow, steady pressure.

Using a plastic tick spoon

Some people find it easier to use a plastic tick spoon specifically designed for tick removal. Slide the spoon under the attached tick, fitting its mouth parts into the v-shaped notch. Then hold the body of the tick down with your thumb, and gently roll the handle of the spoon down, using leverage to pull the tick out. Do not twist, pry, or jerk the tick, as this may cause the tick to break into pieces.

  •     After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
  •     Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag or wrapping it tightly in tape. Never crush a tick with your fingers.
  •     Avoid misguided practices, such as “painting” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin—these methods do not work.


Treat it

If you have a tick attached or embedded for more than 36 hours, or have symptoms of a tick-borne disease such as fever, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, a bulls eye shaped rash or joint pain, report this immediately to your healthcare provider or CMC Urgent Care 603.314.4567; you can also make an appointment online: