Tick Borne Diseases

Lyme Disease and Other Tick Borne Disease Information

There are number of important diseases that can be transmitted by ticks in Connecticut and other locations in the Northeastern United States including Lyme Disease, Human Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Babesiosis. Of these the greatest amount of activity in Connecticut is with Lyme Disease. Information on these and other tick borne diseases, the ticks, and tick control measures you can take can be found at these web sites:

Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (See Tick Management Handbook. The file is in .pdf format)

Connecticut Department of Public Health

U.S. Center for Disease Control


Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is an infection caused by a kind of bacteria (germ) called a spirochete (say: spy-ro-keet). The disease is carried by deer ticks. It can be given to animals and humans through tick bites. Deer ticks are tiny. They are about the size of a poppy seed or the period at the end of this sentence.

The highest rates of Lyme disease are in rural and suburban areas in the northeastern and Midwestern states. Lyme disease is also found in other parts of the United States, as well as in Europe, Asia and Australia.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

The earliest sign of Lyme disease is a rash, which appears one to 30 days after a tick bite. This rash, called erythema migrans (say: ear-a-theem-a my-granz), usually starts at the site of the tick bite, but can appear anywhere on the body. It may begin as a small red spot and grow larger. The center may fade, creating a “bull’s eye,” or ring appearance. Some people with Lyme disease have many red spots. The rash may burn, hurt, or itch, or it may be unnoticed.

Some people with Lyme disease start to feel ill around the time they notice the rash. They may have fever, chills, headaches, stiff neck, fatigue, muscle aches and joint pain. In a few people, early Lyme disease can spread to the heart or the nervous system. If Lyme disease spreads to the heart, the person may feel an irregular or slow heart beat. Early spread of Lyme disease to the nervous system can cause the face to droop (a condition called Bell’s palsy).

What about the later stages of Lyme disease?

If Lyme disease isn’t treated, it can spread to the rest of the body. The symptoms of late Lyme disease include arthritis (painful, swollen joints) and nervous system problems. Lyme arthritis often affects only one of the large joints, such as the knee. Sometimes, it may affect more than one joint. The symptoms of the nervous system disorder of late Lyme disease may include trouble concentrating, loss of memory, muscle weakness, and tingling and numbness in the arms and legs. Lyme disease is a rare cause of such nervous system disease.

How can my doctor tell if I have Lyme disease?

The best way to find out if you have Lyme disease is to talk to your family doctor about your symptoms. Blood tests aren’t always necessary to make the diagnosis. The tests that check for Lyme disease are reliable. People with early Lyme disease, who have been sick for less than a month, often haven’t yet developed antibodies to the disease, which means they won’t have a positive blood test. Also, if a person with early Lyme disease takes antibiotics, he or she may never have a positive Lyme disease test.

This article is provided to you by the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP on the World Wide Web http://www.aafp.org/healthinfo

For more information about tick testing and town-specific test results go to http://www.caes.state.ct.us/FactSheetFiles/Entomology/TickSummary/ticksummary.htm

Information may also be obtained from the following sites:

Connecticut Department of Public Health at

Centers for Disease Control at