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What ticks carry Lyme disease?

Andrew Bellingham

Andrew Bellingham

Pharmacist | 20+ Years | BPharm | Dip Clin Pharm

Lyme disease is a serious illness caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. It’s primarily transmitted to humans through the bite of infected ticks. These ticks act as carriers, picking up the bacteria when they feed on small animals like mice and then passing it on when they bite humans.

Early symptoms of Lyme disease often include fever, fatigue, headache, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If untreated, the infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system, leading to more severe symptoms such as arthritis and neurological problems.

What kind of ticks carry Lyme disease?

Ticks that carry Lyme disease are mainly from the Ixodes genus. In Europe and North America, the most common species are Ixodes ricinus (Europe) and Ixodes scapularis (North America). These ticks live in wooded or grassy areas where they can latch onto animals or humans.

Where ticks are found:

  • Wooded areas: Ticks thrive in dense forests with leaf litter, where they find hosts like rodents and deer.

  • Grassy fields: Open fields with tall grass and bushes provide ideal tick habitats.

  • Gardens and parks: Even urban green spaces can harbour ticks if there’s enough vegetation and wildlife.

Preventing tick bites:

  • Cover up: Wear long sleeves, pants tucked into socks, and closed shoes when outdoors in tick-infested areas.

  • Use repellent: Apply insect repellent containing DEET or permethrin on exposed skin and clothing.

  • Check regularly: After being outdoors, check your body (including scalp, armpits, and groin) for ticks. Prompt removal lowers the risk of infection.

  • Tick control: Keep lawns trimmed and remove leaf litter to reduce tick habitat around homes and play areas.

  • Pets: Protect pets with tick repellents and check them for ticks regularly, as they can bring ticks indoors.

Frequently asked questions about Lyme disease

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

Early symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, fatigue, headache, and a distinctive rash called erythema migrans. If untreated, it can lead to joint pain, neurological problems, and heart issues. 

How can I prevent tick bites?

Use insect repellents with DEET, wear protective clothing, do tick checks after outdoor activities, and maintain yard cleanliness to reduce tick habitats.

Where are Lyme disease-carrying ticks commonly found?

Lyme disease-carrying ticks are commonly found in wooded areas, grassy fields, gardens, parks, and even urban green spaces where there is ample vegetation and wildlife.

A photo of a woman's leg with the typical bull's-eye rash associated with Lyme disease

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