United States

Health Officials Report Record Number of Tick-Borne Diseases

Disease-transmitting ticks are on the rise and have been reported in every state, including a tick whose bite might make you allergic to red meat.

Ticks can be as small as a poppy seed but can have a big impact on your health if you don't catch them early.

Experts say the wet winter is partly to blame for the record number of ticks this summer. Health officials report a record number of tick-borne diseases.

"You want to avoid ticks at all costs," said Dr. Bobbi Pritt of the Mayo Clinic.

Lyme disease gets the most attention, but Pritt said ticks can transmit a variety of different illnesses. Symptoms include aches, pains, fever, fatigue and muscle weakness.

The lone star tick can cause an allergic reaction to red meat. The adult female has a white dot — or “lone star” — on her back. These ticks can be found along the East Coast and in the South.

"Like an anaphylactic response such as people have when they are allergic to bee stings where your throat closes down, you have difficulty breathing; your lips and tongue swell," Pritt said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mapped out tick regions all across the U.S. urging people to take precautions before heading outdoors.

"If you are going to go walking on a nice wooded trail, stay in the middle of the trail,” Pritt said. “Avoid the tall grasses on the other side."

The best advice is prevention. Use a bug repellent and spray your shoes to keep ticks from crawling up pant legs.

After you've been outside, check your family's clothing and hair for ticks and take a shower to reduce risk.

If you spot one, get as close to the skin as possible with tweezers or forceps and pull the tick off smoothly.

A tick needs to be attached for at least 36 hours to transmit Lyme disease, but other infections can be transferred in a few hours or even minutes.

Contact Us