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Other Tick-Borne Diseases/Conditions

Tick-borne diseases/conditions. Although Lyme is the most prevalent of tick-borne diseases (TBD) in the US, there are many others here and around the world.  Ixodes scapularis and Ixodes pacificus ticks (blacklegged and western blacklegged, aka deer ticks) transmit Lyme disease in the US.  Blacklegged ticks are currently known to be able to transmit  9 diseases/conditions and western blacklegged ticks, 7.

Transmission time for TBD. Other types of ticks including Amblyomma Americanum (lone star) and  Dermacentor variabilis (American dog) often carry several different disease organisms which can also be transmitted by one tick bite.  Tick attachment times needed for disease transmission may vary depending on the disease, e.g., Powassan virus, which can be transmitted by Ixodes scapularis (deer tick) within 15 minutes and has a high fatality rate.  

Symptoms & testing for TBD. TBD may produce different symptoms than Lyme disease or very similar symptoms. Diagnostic tests are often different for different TBD and some may have no test at this time. Treatments may be the same, similar or totally different.  Some of these TBD may produce persistent symptoms. Treatments for bacterial TBD are antibiotics, often doxycycline.  Viral TBDs often have no treatment except palliative care—treating the symptoms to improve quality of life. Some tick bites cause medical conditions rather than disease, such as tick paralysis or Alpha gal syndrome, the former producing paralysis until the tick is removed, the latter giving you an allergy to meat.

Geographic distribution of ticks/TBD. Different types of ticks are more abundant in certain geographic areas, thus people residing/working in those areas have a greater risk of acquiring the disease.  Because ticks are scarce in an area or have no know established populations there does not preclude someone getting a particular TBD not known to be present in the area.  People and pets travel to other geographic regions, exposing them to different ticks and their diseases and sometimes taking unfamiliar ticks home. Birds carry ticks over many hundreds of miles or more, and other animals such as deer carry ticks miles from their home base. Less prominent TBD are often unknown by doctors in an area, or they may deny a diagnosis of a TBD saying it does not exist in their area.  When people who live in CDC-designated  “low incidence jurisdictions” for Lyme disease in US, then travel to “high incidence jurisdictions,” and then return home exhibiting Lyme disease symptoms, this diagnostic  situation often occurs. It forces patients to travel great distances for diagnosis and treatment. Foreign travel can “bring back”  TBD or disease causing organism strains unknown in the US which may have different symptoms from the TBD in the US.  

Here is a list of  known US TBD diseases and conditions for you to learn about: Lyme disease (B. burgdorferi, B. mayoni)   

Alpha gal       Anaplasmosis     Babesiosis      Bartonellosis *   Borrelia miyamotoi      Bourbon virus

Colorado tick fever     Ehrlichiosis   Heartland virus   Powassan virus    Rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis

Rickettsia phillipi (364D)   Rocky Mountain spotted fever   Tick-borne relapsing fever     

Southern tick-associated rash illness  (STARI)       Tick paralysis   Tularemia   Q fever 

* LDA NOTE:  Ticks are known carriers of Bartonella bacteria that cause bartonellosis, however government has not confirmed that it is transmitted to humans by ticks although many doctors and researchers think it may be tick transmitted.