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 transmitted by ticks including babesiosis, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, hard tick relapsing fever and Powassan encephalitis.

Protect Against Tick Bites and Prevent Disease

Blacklegged ticks (commonly known as 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 such as behind an ear, in an armpit, in the hair, etc.

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, on fallen logs 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.

Ticks that carry disease in NYS

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Tick Risk Score by Region

See your region's Tick Risk Score

Clothing and Repellents

Dress to Repel: Wear light-colored clothes so you can more easily see ticks and remove them and tuck pants into socks and shirt into pants to limit access to your skin for crawling ticks.

DO this Stuff DON'T do this Stuff
  1. Wear Light-Colored Clothing!
  2. Follow Directions on Repellent Label!
  3. Spray Repellent only Outdoors!
  4. Wash off Repellent when you go Indoors!
  5. Wear a Long-Sleeved Shirt and Long Pants!
  6. Tuck Pants into Socks!
  1. Don't Spray Your Face with Repellent!
  2. Don't Breathe Repellents!
  3. Don't Put Repellent on Cuts, Sunburns or Rashes!
  4. Don't Put Repellent on Little Kids' Hands!
  5. Don't Use Repellent Under Clothes!

Insect repellents: If you use insect repellents, follow label directions and apply repellent carefully.
Learn more at Tick and Insect Repellent: Deciding on their Use

Remove a tick as soon as you find one on you

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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 blacklegged (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.

How does the Department of Health monitor tick-borne disease risk across NY?

Ticks, and the illnesses they can cause, are of increasing concern in New York. Department of Health staff collect ticks from areas across the state and test them for the agents that cause human illness to determine areas where people are at risk of getting a tick-borne illness.



Diseases Spread by Ticks

Diseases most commonly transmitted by ticks in NYS include Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, and Powassan encephalitis. Information on other, less common tick-borne diseases that can potentially be transmitted by ticks in NYS can be found by visiting: Ticks (

Lyme disease

A bacterial infection caused by the bite of an infected blacklegged (deer) tick.


A bacterial infection caused by the bite of an infected blacklegged (deer) tick.


A disease caused by various types of microscopic parasites from the bite of an infected blacklegged (deer) tick.


A bacterial infection caused by the bite of an infected lone star tick.

Powassan virus disease

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

Rocky Mountain spotted fever

A rare disease caused by the bite of an infected American dog tick.

Your Pets and Tick-borne diseases

Additional resources