information on tick borne diseases

Tick-Borne Diseases
Connecticut is home to many different species of ticks that are known to carry diseases that are transmissible to humans.
  • The black legged tick or deer tick can transmit Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, and Lyme.
  • The lone star tick, rare in CT, transmits Erlichiosis. 
  • The dog or wood tick can transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Tularemia but cases are rare in CT.

Black Legged Tick or Deer Tick Diseases and Symptoms

Disease Symptoms
Anaplasmosis Symptoms begin 1-2 weeks after a bite and include: fever, headache, muscle pain, malaise, chills, nausea/abdominal pain, cough, confusion, rash (although rare). Nymph and adult ticks are most frequently associated.
Babesiosis Usually associated with the nymph stage of the tick. Many people do not experience symptoms, some people develop nonspecific flu-like symptoms such as: fever, chills, sweats, headache, body aches, loss of appetite, nausea, and fatigue. Symptoms usually begin 1-6 weeks after bite. Complications from Babesiosis can occur and it could be life threatening.
Lyme Most prevalent tick-borne disease seen in CT. Most cases are contracted during the months of June, July, and August. This corresponds to the tick's nymph stage. Symptoms include: fever, headache, fatigue, and a skin rash called erythema migrans (EM) or a "bull's eye" rash (2-32 days after bite). If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, heart, and nervous system.

Lone Star Tick Disease and Symptoms

Disease Symptoms
Erlichiosis Symptoms usually develop 1-2 weeks after initial bite. Symptoms include: fever, headache, chills, malaise, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, conjunctival injection (red eyes), and a rash in up to 60% of children but less than 30% of adults.

Dog Tick or Wood Tick Diseases and Symptoms

Diseases Symptoms
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Symptoms include: fever, headache, abdominal pain (may mimic appendicitis or other causes of acute abdominal pain), vomiting, muscle pain, a rash may develop (occurs 2-5 days after fever may be absent in some cases), lack of appetite, and conjunctival injection (red eyes). Can be very sever or even fatal if not treated within first 8 days of symptoms.
Tularemia  Signs and symptoms may vary depending on how the bacteria enters the body. All forms are accompanied by fever, which can be as high as 1040F. Main forms are:
  • Ulceroglandular - most common form; skin ulcer appears at the site where the organism entered the body; ulcer is accompanied by swelling of regional lymph glands (armpit or groin).
  • Glandular - no ulcer but similar to ulceroglandular.
  • Oculoglandar - bacteria enters through eye; symptoms include irritation and inflammation of eye and swelling of lymph glands in front of the ear.
  • Oropharyngeal - eating or drinking contaminated food or water; sore throat, mouth ulcers, tonsillitis, and swelling of lymph glands in the neck.
  • Pneumonic - most serious form; symptoms include cough, chest pain, and difficulty breathing; from breathing dusts or aerosols containing the organism or when other forms are left untreated.

*If you believe you have been bitten by a tick, be sure to consult with your medical provider*

Preventing Tick-Borne Diseases

There are many things that you can do to keep you and your family safe from tick-borne diseases.

It is important to understand the tick lifestyle, as the risk for human infection is greatest in late spring and summer months. 

Preventing Tick Bites

Who/Where What to Do?
  • Be extra vigilant in warmer months (April-Sept.) when ticks are most active.
  • Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf liter.
  • Walk in the center of trails and be sure to wear long sleeve shirts and tuck pant legs into boots when hiking. Brush yourself off before entering your car.
  • Repel ticks with DEET (20-30% DEET) on exposed skin and clothing or use Permenthrin (0.5% Permethrin) on clothing.
  • Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and tick-borne diseases, however products like Frontline can help protect your pet from ticks.
  • Tick bites on dogs may be hard to detect. Signs of tick-borne disease may not appear for 7-21 days or longer after a bite. Watch your dog closely for changes in behavior or appetite if you suspect that your pet has been bitten by a tick.
  • Check your pets for ticks daily, especially after they spend time outdoors.
  • If you find a tick on your pet, remove it right away.
  • Ask your Veterinarian to conduct a tick check at each exam.
 The Yard
  • Use a licensed pesticide applicator or use an organic based product.
  • Create a tick-safe zone to reduce ticks:
    • Remove leaf litter and mow the lawn frequently
    • Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edge of lawns
    • Place a 3-ft. wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to restrict tick migration into recreational areas
    • Stack wood neatly and in a dry area (discourages rodents)
    • Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees
    • Mice, deer, and small mammals are natural reservoirs for ticks. Discourage unwelcomed animals from entering your yard with fences
    • Remove old furniture, mattresses, or trash from the yard that may give ticks a place to hide

Removing Ticks

  1. Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
  2. Conduct a full tick check using hand-held or full-length mirrors to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.
  3. Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and day packs.
  4. Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks.

If you find a tick attached to you, do not panic. Here are tips to remove a tick:

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to gasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible.
  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with isopropyl, and iodine scrub, or soap and water.
  4. Contact or bring the tick to your local health department for testing.

Tick Testing

Fairfield Health Department

Ticks can be tested for the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease for a $5.00 fee. Only engorged ticks (tick has been feeding for 48 hours) can be sent to the CT Agricultural Experiment Station Laboratory.  If you wish to a tick test for the bacteria that causes Babesiosis or Anaplasmosis or test an unengorged; they can be sent to the CT Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, see information below. Additional fees apply.

Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory

This lab conducts additional PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tick testing for the bacteria that causes Babesiosis or Anaplasmosis. Individuals would submit ticks to this lab on their own. One or more tests can be conducted for $50 - $100.  Download this Submission Form to send ticks to this lab.  

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