Tick-borne diseases are bacterial illnesses that spread to humans through infected ticks. Different tick-borne diseases are caused by different micro-organisms and in New Jersey the most common are Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mt. spotted fever, and Babesiosis.
Anyone who is bitten by an infected tick may get a tick-borne disease. However, people who spend a lot of time outdoors have a greater risk of becoming infected.
Generally, early signs of tick-borne disease include skin rash, general tiredness, fever and/or chills, headache, stiff neck, muscle aches, joint pain, and dizziness. Most tick-borne diseases are diagnosed through blood test and discussing symptoms with a healthcare provider.
Disease treatment is micro-organism specific and it is important to talk to your healthcare provider if you have been bitten by a tick. Early treatment can be very effective.
Ticks in New Jersey that may carry disease causing organisms:
•Black-legged “deer tick” (Ixodes Scapularis)
•Lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum)
•American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis)
Tick-borne diseases can be prevented by taking precautionary measures:
•Avoid wooded areas with dense shrubs, high grass, and a lot of leaves, as these are places where ticks are likely to hide.
•If you hike in the woods, stay to the center of the trail to avoid overgrown vegetation.
•Take extra precautions in May, June, and July when ticks that transmit disease are most active.
•Make your yard less attractive to ticks: mow lawns, clear brush, and remove leaf litter.
•Keep ground under bird feeders clean.
•Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees.
•When outdoors, apply EPA-registered insect repellent on exposed skin and clothing according to the instructions on the product label. DEET may be used on skin and Permethrin should only be used on clothing and outdoor gear.
•Cover up. Wear long, solid, and light-colored clothing with pants tucked into socks. This will help prevent ticks from getting under your clothes and attaching to your skin.
•Perform daily tick checks after being outdoors. Inspect all parts of your body including your armpits, scalp, and groin.
Information provided by the New Jersey Department of Health Communicable Disease Service. For more information about tick-borne diseases visit NJDOH Communicable Disease Service at www.nj.gov/health/cd/ or CDC Tick-Borne Diseases at www.cdc.gov/ticks/diseases