Ticks, Lyme Disease & Prevention

The chances that you might acquire Lyme disease from a single tick bite depend on the type of tick, where you acquire it, and how long it was attached to you. Many types of ticks bite people in the U.S., but only blacklegged ticks transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Only blacklegged ticks in the highly endemic areas of northeastern and north central U.S. are commonly infected.

Blacklegged ticks need to be attached for at least 24 hours before they can transmit Lyme disease. This is why it's so important to remove them promptly and to check your body daily for ticks.

If you develop illness within a few weeks of a tick bite, see your health care provider right away. Common symptoms of Lyme disease include a rash, fever, body aches, facial paralysis, and arthritis. Ticks can also transmit other diseases, so it's important to be alert for any illness that follows a tick bite.

Just as it is important to correctly diagnose Lyme disease when a patient has it, it is important to avoid misdiagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease when the true cause of illness is something else. Patients treated with appropriate antibiotics, in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely.