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Deer tick in grass

Tick Identification Preventing Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases

By PhD, and PhD, Illinois Department of Public Health.

Tick-borne Diseases

Disease Organism Tick Vector
LymeBacteriumBlack Legged Deer Tick
STARI*BacteriumLone Star Tick
RMSF**BacteriumAmerican Dog
TularemiaBacteriumLone Star, American Dog
EhrlichiosisBacteriumLone Star, American Dog, Black Legged Deer Tick
CO Tick FeverVirusRocky Mt. Wood
Powassan EnVirusGH
BabesiosisProtozoanBlack Legged Dear Tick
Tick ParalysisToxinLone Star, American Dog

STARI* - Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness
RMSF**- Rock Mountain Spotted Fever

Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease is caused by a bacterial spirochete carried by the black-legged deer tick. It is the most common arthropod-borne disease in the United Stated. The risk of Lyme Disease appears to be increasing in some areas such as Illinois.

Lyme Disease: Clinical Stages - First Signs

Black Legged Deer Ticks - Primary Transmitters of Lyme Disease

Larve, nymph, male, and female ticks compared to dime coin size.

Black Legged Deer Tick Hosts

Larva: Small rodents such as the White-Footed mouse, chipmunks
Nymph: Small rodents, dogs, humans
Adult: Deer, occasionally horses and humans

Peak Tick Activity Occurs April through mid-July

Month by month risks assessments for life cycle transmissions of lyme disease

Black Legged Deer Tick Life Cycle

Larvae hatch in the summer
Nymphs emerge the following spring
Adults emerge in fall, oviposit eggs in spring

Nymphs are capable of transmitting the most disease to humans during their appearance in spring and early summer. Most Lyme disease transmission to humans occurs from nymphs infected the previous season from small rodents such as the the white footed mouse.

"STARI" also known as Lone Star Tick Rash (Mimics Lyme rash)

Female & Male Lone Star Ticks

Lone Star Tick is MUCH more common in the southern 2/3 of the Southern United States. Early symptoms of STARI (Borrelia lonestari) are similar to the first symptoms of Lyme disease. The same antibiotic therapy for Lyme disease is prescribed to treat STARI.

Tick Misidentification - Black Legged Deer Tick or Lone Star Tick?

Both the stages of both tick are very similar in size and appearance.

Deer ticks
Black Legged Deer TickLone Star Tick

Preventing Tick Bites

Tick Feeding and Pathogen Transmission

Update: Previously, Lyme disease transmission to humans was thought to take a minimum of 36-48 hours for an infected tick attached to a human host. This study suggests that health care providers and individuals exposed to ticks should be aware that transmission of Lyme disease can and does occur more rapidly than previous animal models suggested. See: Research Findings from Diagnostic Microbiology, November 2011 issue.

Safe Tick Removal

Safely removing a tick

Tick Management

Tick Identification Resources

University of Nebraska: U. of Nebraska:

Tick Management Handbook, Connecticut Experimental Station:

Plant Grinder

Authors Linn David Haramis and Curt Colwell are medical doctors, part the Illinois Department of Public Health,

Tick bite skin rash example

Lyme Disease Symptoms risks, getting tested, treatment options.

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Updated: Dec 21 2013