Lyme Disease and Other Diseases Carried by Ticks

It's important for you and your family to be tick free!

Ticks can spread disease. Not all ticks can cause disease and not all bites will make you sick, but as these diseases become more common it's important to learn how to prevent a bite, how to remove a tick and what to do if you think you could have a tick-borne disease.

Lyme disease is the most common disease spread by ticks in New York but there are other serious diseases spread by ticks. And like Lyme, the other diseases will begin to spread to other regions across the state.

Protect Against and Prevent Disease

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Deer ticks live in shady, moist areas at ground level. They will cling to tall grass, brush and shrubs, usually no more than 18-24 inches off the ground. They also live in lawns and gardens, especially at the edges of woods and around old stone walls.

Once a tick gets on the skin, it generally climbs upward until it reaches a protected area.

In tick-infested areas, your best protection is to avoid contact with soil, leaf litter and vegetation. However, if you garden, hike, camp, hunt, work or otherwise spend time in the outdoors, you can still protect yourself:

  • Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily.
  • Wear enclosed shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants.
  • Check clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks while outdoors.
  • Consider using insect repellent.
  • Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails. Walk in the center of trails. Avoid dense woods and bushy areas.
  • Avoid sitting directly on the ground or on stone walls.
  • Keep long hair tied back, especially when gardening.
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after going indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that may be on you.
  • Do a final, full-body tick check at the end of the day (also check children and pets), and remove ticks promptly.
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Dress to Repel

Wear light-colored clothes and tuck pants into socks and shirt into pants.

Insect repellents

If you use insect repellents, follow label directions and apply repellent carefully.

Remove a tick as soon as you find one on you

Removing a tick as soon as you find it will reduce the likelihood of contracting any disease that a tick may be carrying.

When to call a doctor after a tick bite

If you develop a rash or flu-like symptoms, contact your health care provider immediately. Although not routinely recommended, taking antibiotics within three days after a tick bite may be beneficial for some persons. This would apply to deer tick bites that occurred in areas where Lyme disease is common and there is evidence that the tick fed for more than one day. In cases like this you should discuss the possibilities with your doctor or licensed health care provider.

Ticks that carry disease in NYS

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Diseases Spread by Ticks

Lyme disease - is a bacterial infection caused by the bite of an infected deer tick.

Anaplasmosis and Erhlichioisis - are tick-borne diseases caused by two different bacteria transmitted by the bite of a tick. The lone star tick causes erhlichiosis and the deer tick causes anaplasmosis.

Babesiosis - is a rare, disease caused by various types of microscopic parasites from the bite of an infected deer tick.

Powassan virus disease - is a rare, but often serious disease caused by a virus that is spread by the bite of infected ticks

Rocky Mountain spotted fever - is a rare disease caused by the bite of an infected American dog tick.

Your Pets and Tick-borne diseases