Tick Borne Diseases

Ticks can carry a variety of diseases depending on their geographic location.  To make matters worse at tick can carry more than 1 pathogen so that a victim can potentially be infected by multiple pathogens at the same time.

Tick Bourne Diseases

  • Anaplasmosis
  • Babesiosis
  • Borrelia mayonii
  • Borrellia miyamotoi
  • Colorado tick fever
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Heartland virus
  • Lyme Disease
  • Powassan disease
  • Rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever
  • STARI (Southner tick-associated rash illness)
  • Tickborn relapsing fever (TBRF)
  • Tularemia
  • 364D rickettsiosis

For more information on the above diseases please visit:  https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/diseases/index.html

Tick-borne illnesses are caused by various pathogens transmitted through the bite of infected ticks. These diseases can result in a wide range of symptoms, often presenting with nonspecific flu-like symptoms initially and progressing to more severe manifestations if left untreated. Understanding the symptoms of tick-borne illnesses is crucial for early detection, diagnosis, and prompt treatment. Here, we delve into the diverse array of symptoms associated with these diseases, highlighting their complexity and potential impact on human health.

Tick-borne illnesses encompass a spectrum of diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites carried by ticks. The most common tick-borne illnesses include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and tick-borne encephalitis, among others. While each disease is caused by different pathogens, they share certain overlapping symptoms due to the inflammatory response triggered by the body's immune system.

One of the hallmark symptoms of many tick-borne illnesses is the development of a characteristic rash. In Lyme disease, an expanding red rash known as erythema migraines often appears at the site of the tick bite. This rash may gradually increase in size and resemble a bull's-eye pattern. Similarly, Rocky Mountain spotted fever can cause a distinctive rash characterized by small, flat, pink spots that may spread from the wrists and ankles to the trunk of the body. However, not all tick-borne illnesses present with a rash, and its absence does not rule out the possibility of infection.

In addition to skin manifestations, tick-borne illnesses commonly produce flu-like symptoms, including fever, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, and joint pain. These symptoms can be mistaken for other common illnesses, such as the flu, making accurate diagnosis challenging, especially during the early stages of infection. Some individuals may also experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

As tick-borne illnesses progress, they can affect multiple organ systems, leading to more severe complications. Lyme disease, if left untreated, may progress to involve the joints, causing Lyme arthritis characterized by joint swelling, stiffness, and pain, particularly in large joints like the knees. Neurological complications such as facial paralysis, meningitis, and peripheral neuropathy can also occur in advanced cases of Lyme disease. Similarly, Rocky Mountain spotted fever can cause life-threatening complications such as organ failure, septic shock, and neurological impairment if not promptly treated with appropriate antibiotics.

Furthermore, tick-borne illnesses can vary in severity depending on the type of pathogen involved, the duration of infection, and individual factors such as age, immune status, and underlying health conditions. Certain populations, such as children, the elderly, and immunocompromised individuals, may be at higher risk of developing severe complications from tick-borne infections.

Prevention remains the cornerstone of reducing the burden of tick-borne illnesses. Avoiding tick-infested areas, wearing protective clothing, using insect repellents containing DEET or picaridin, and conducting thorough tick checks after outdoor activities are essential preventive measures. Early removal of attached ticks can significantly reduce the risk of transmission of tick-borne pathogens.

In conclusion, tick-borne illnesses can present with a wide range of symptoms, from mild flu-like symptoms to severe complications affecting multiple organ systems. Recognizing the diverse manifestations of these diseases is essential for timely diagnosis and treatment. By raising awareness of the symptoms of tick-borne illnesses and adopting effective preventive measures, individuals can better protect themselves and their communities from the potentially devastating effects of these infections. 

General Symptoms of Tick Borne Illness
Each type of tick transmitted illness has its own specific symptoms, but they all include the following:

  • Fever/Chills
  • Aches & Pains/Headache
  • Rash – Timing of the rash and appearance will vary

For more information on symptoms visit:  https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/symptoms.html

It is important to seek treatment immediately from your physician if you believe that you have been infected with a tick transmitted illness.  If left untreated the patient could suffer life-long complications or even death.  The typical treatment is a course of antibiotics.  Antibiotic treatments have been proven to be extremely effective in treating tick borne illnesses.