Often when you contract Lyme disease, you also contract a secondary tick-borne disease (co-infection). While there is a certain level of awareness of Lyme disease, it is important to consider other risks associated with tick bites. New tick diseases are being discovered all the time.
- Tick-borne relapsing fever (TBRF) – Transmitted by soft ticks, which only need half an hour to feed on your blood. Sleeping in a rodent-infested rustic dwelling increases the risk. Symptoms are achy joints, high temperature and headache. After the initial three day fever, you may feel better for seven days, before falling ill again.
- Borrelia miyamotoi – A variant of Lyme disease and Tick-borne relapsing fever. Symptoms are similar to those of Lyme disease.
- Borrelia mayonii – A recently discovered form of Lyme disease. Symptoms are similar to Lyme disease, but you may also experience nausea and vomiting.
- Babesiosis – Caused by microscopic parasites that, carried by the blacklegged or western blacklegged ticks. Symptoms can be flu-like, but the parasites attack blood cells, also causing hemolytic anemia, which causes problems for people with compromised immune systems.
- Anaplasmosis – Caused by Anaplasma phagocytophilum, also carried by blacklegged or western blacklegged ticks. Again, presents with flu-like symptoms, begins one to two weeks after bite, and can be fatal if not treated quickly.
- Tularemia – Caused by Francisella tularensis and exposure isn’t limited to tick bites. It can also be contracted from deer fly bites, drinking contaminated water, and skin contact with infected animals. A skin ulcer occurs at the site of the tick bite. Symptoms involve fever and weakness. Tularemia can be fatal depending on the type of exposure.
- Rickettsiosis – A group of spotted fevers including Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), which despite the name can be caught anywhere in the US. Spotted fevers are transmitted by several species of ticks including the American dog tick, the brown dog tick and the Rocky Mountain wood tick. Symptoms include fever, aches and pains, stomach pain, rash, nausea, vomiting, headache and a lack of appetite. RMSF is the most serious of the spotted fevers – if left untreated it can cause death.
- Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI) – Resembles Lyme disease in symptoms, but this is a separate infection, spread by the bite of the lone star tick. Usually, a red rash will expand from the initial wound around seven days after the bite, spreading out in a circle for 8cm. STARI is still being investigated.
- Colorado Tick Fever (CTF) – Transmitted by the Rocky Mountain wood tick. You have flu-like symptoms, but you may also have a sore throat, or struggle with vomiting, a rash, and stomach pain. Symptoms may come back several days after the initial illness.
- Ehrlichiosis – An umbrella term for three bacterial diseases spread by the lone star tick. Symptoms involve aches and pains, headache, fever, chills, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and red eyes.
- Heartland virus – Transmitted by the lone star tick, currently only in Southern Midwestern states. The symptoms are similar to those of ehrlichiosis. As this is a virus, antibiotics will not cure this illness.
- Powassan Virus (POW) – Another serious virus spread by the groundhog tick, squirrel tick, and the blacklegged tick. Symptoms may not be experienced until a month after the bite, but include fever, vomiting, weakness and seizures. POW has some serious consequences as it infects the central nervous system and can cause meningitis.
We believe the best solution to Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases is that of prevention. When going out into woodland, make sure you stick to the middle of trails. Wear long sleeves and pants, and use tick clothing repellent spray which ensures the ticks won’t be attracted to your clothes.
You can also wear tick repellent, which will put them off. After your hike, make sure you and your friends or family check each other for ticks. Take a hand mirror to check the hard to reach places. Check your dogs or other pets for ticks, remembering it’s best not to crush the tick between your fingers. Tumble dry your clothes for ten minutes also kills ticks.