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Mythbusters: All ticks carry Lyme disease

Ticks can spread serious diseases to both people and pets. There is a lot of information out there about how to stay safe. Is all of it true? What are the real facts? Our resident doctor of entomology and author of Ask the Bug Doc, Nancy Troyano, will help you sort through some of the misinformation out there in this edition of “Mythbusters”.

Tick Myth: I was bitten by a tick and now I have Lyme disease.

Myth: Busted

You’ve found a tick on yourself and are now convinced you have Lyme disease. Don’t panic yet. Not every species of tick transmits this particular disease. Only deer ticks or black-legged ticks carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. And in most cases, an infected tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours to transmit the disease.

Even though not all ticks carry Lyme disease, it’s a good idea to get checked out by a doctor if you find a tick on you. Early symptoms of Lyme disease usually appear between three and thirty days after a tick bite. They include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes. 

Lyme disease is not the only tick-borne disease you need to be concerned about. There are several other diseases transmitted by ticks. It’s important to be aware of the symptoms if you suspect you have been bitten by a tick. 

tick on grass

Other tick-borne diseases you should know about

Rocky Mountain spotted fever

Symptoms: Full body rash 2-5 days after the tick bite

Alpha Gal (red meat) allergy

Symptoms: Rash, hives, difficulty breathing, drop in blood pressure, dizziness or faintness, nausea or vomiting which usually appear 3-6 hours after eating meat

Powassan virus

Symptoms: Initial symptoms can appear 1 week to 1 month from the time of the tick bite and include fever, headache, vomiting and weakness


Symptoms: Fever, chills, severe headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite are early signs that can appear within 1-5 days


Symptoms: Within the first five days you may experience fever, chills, severe headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and confusion. Up to 1 in 3 people report a rash which generally occurs more often in children.

Woman hiking in the forest

Protect yourself from tick-borne disease

It’s important to take precautions when spending time outside to avoid the threat of tick-borne disease. Protect yourself, your family, and your pets by following the tips below:

  • Use an EPA-registered insect repellent containing at least 20% DEET.

  • Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and closed-toe shoes when outdoors.

  • Inspect yourself, your family, and pets for ticks after spending time outside.

  • Wear light-colored clothing so that ticks are easier to spot.

  • Keep your yard tick-free by removing weeds and cutting grass low.

  • Talk to your veterinarian about tick prevention for your pets.

  • When hiking, stay in the center of trails and away from vegetation.

Ehrlich’s experienced pest specialists can help keep you safe with barrier treatments for your yard. Contact us today to learn about our Tick Control Seasonal Plan.

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