Back to Top Skip to main content

Tick Facts: Dangers at the height of tick season

A tick like this one, seen at 10x magnification, can spread a number of dangerous pathogens during the warm-weather months. (Photo by Cornel Constantin) A tick like this one, seen at 10x magnification, can spread a number of dangerous pathogens during the warm-weather months. (Photo by Cornel Constantin)

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses | Bug Week: July 27 - August 2 | Tick-Borne Illnesses | Health Readiness | Preventive Health | Public Health

From April to September, tick activity spikes throughout the United States. With high tick activity comes the importance of increasing awareness of common tick-borne illnesses and how to prevent them.

According to Army Maj. Elizabeth Wanja, of the Uniformed Services University for Health Sciences, outdoor activities during peak tick season raise the chances of transmitting pathogens from living organisms that can carry diseases. These organisms include mosquitos, fleas and, you guessed it, ticks.

“Outdoor activities like farming, camping, and military training exercises in grasslands or edges of the forest increase chances of these pathogens’ transmission,” Wanja said.

Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 77 percent of all insect-borne diseases are carried by ticks. Lyme disease, transmitted through bites from deer ticks, remains the most common of these diseases. However, Lyme is not the only disease to be aware of. Here are five other tick-borne pathogens to be aware of:

Ehrlichiosis, which commonly occurs in the Southeast, South Central, and Midwest U.S., is transmitted to humans primarily by a bite of an infected lone star tick, which is native to this region. Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, muscles aches, and the occasional upset stomach. Ehrlichiosis can be treated in adults and children with the antibiotic Doxycycline.

Anaplasmosis occurs in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, upper Midwest and West Coast of the U.S. and is transmitted through a bite of the blacklegged tick and the western blacklegged tick. Anaplasmosis has the same symptoms and treatment as ehrlichiosis – the main difference being the tick that carries the disease.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is caused by infection from a bacterial organism. It is transmitted by a bite of an infected American dog tick, brown dog tick, and the Rocky Mountain wood tick. This is commonly reported in the Southeast U.S. This infection causes high fever, headache, and rash, and can be deadly if not treated with Doxycycline.

Powassan virus is a rare, tick-borne flavivirus that can have severe effects on the human nervous system. The deer tick transmits Powassan, which is a rare infection that’s on the rise, with 33 cases in 2017 alone. There are currently no vaccines or treatments for Powassan virus infection, so hospitalization is imperative to help with breathing complications and brain swelling.

The most peculiar tick-borne disease on the list, alpha-gal syndrome, occurs when the alpha-gal sugar molecule – often found in red meats like beef and pork – is transmitted into the human body. This molecule has been associated with the bite of the lone star tick, transmitted through saliva. Studies are still ongoing to find a specific link between alpha-gal syndrome and ticks, but the result for a human can be a tick-caused red meat allergy.

Tick-borne illnesses can also be transported overseas. U.S. military personnel and their family members deploy to various regions of the world, where they can be exposed to arthropod-borne diseases that the rest of the U.S. population does not encounter.

“These deployments expose service members and families to novel pathogens which may be introduced in the U.S. when infected personnel redeploy back home,” Wanja said.

Luckily, there are various ways to reduce the chances of getting tick-borne infections. They include avoiding areas where ticks may be found and checking for ticks if someone conducts activities that might bring them into tick-prone areas.

Use of skin-topical repellents and treated clothing, wearing of pants tucked in shoes and boots, and proper removal of ticks to avoid pathogens being injected into the body can also prevent the spread of these illnesses.

For more prevention tips and ways to identify different bugs and bites, visit the Military Health System’s Bug Week page.

You also may be interested in...

Bug Week Screensaver

Photo
7/2/2019
This screensaver can run on your facility's computer and/or television screens during the week. Contact your local IT department to see how you can include it in the rotation.

This screensaver can run on your facility's computer and/or television screens during the week. Contact your local IT department to see how you can include it in the rotation.

Recommended Content:

Bug Week: July 27 - August 2

Bug Week Social Media Promotional Graphic

Photo
7/2/2019
You can use this promotional graphic on your social media platforms. Be sure to use the hashtag, #BugWeek2019 and tag @MilitaryHealth in your post!

You can use this promotional graphic on your social media platforms. Be sure to use the hashtag, #BugWeek2019 and tag @MilitaryHealth in your post!

Recommended Content:

Bug Week: July 27 - August 2

Bug Week Facebook Banner

Photo
7/1/2019
Join the fun! Download this banner and use it as your temporary Facebook cover photo during Bug Week.

Join the fun! Download this banner and use it as your temporary Facebook cover photo during Bug Week.

Recommended Content:

Bug Week: July 27 - August 2

Bug Week Twitter Banner

Photo
7/1/2019
Join the fun! Download this banner and use it as your temporary Twitter cover photo during Bug Week.

Join the fun! Download this banner and use it as your temporary Twitter cover photo during Bug Week.

Recommended Content:

Bug Week: July 27 - August 2

Flag Football Game

Photo
9/28/2016
Youth participate in a flag football game on Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Arizona. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Travis Gershaneck)

Youth participate in a flag football game on Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Arizona. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Travis Gershaneck)

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Children's Health | Physical Activity

Battlefield Medicine Course

Photo
9/28/2016
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Michael Triana, left, 347th Operations Support Squadron independent duty medical technician-paramedic, addresses injuries on a simulated patient during a tactical combat casualty care course, in Okeechobee, Florida. The course tests and reinforces participants’ lifesaving medical skills while they are in high-stress, combat scenarios. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Callaghan)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Michael Triana, left, 347th Operations Support Squadron independent duty medical technician-paramedic, addresses injuries on a simulated patient during a tactical combat casualty care course, in Okeechobee, Florida. The course tests and reinforces participants’ lifesaving medical skills while they are in high-stress, combat scenarios. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Callaghan)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Orient Shield

Photo
9/26/2016
Japan Ground Self-Defense Force medics carry a casualty from an ambulance to a JGSDF helicopter while a U.S. Army medic calls directions during a bilateral medical training exercise.

Japan Ground Self-Defense Force medics carry a casualty from an ambulance to a JGSDF helicopter while a U.S. Army medic calls directions during a bilateral medical training exercise.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Healthy aging starts sooner than you think

Photo
9/23/2016
Air Force Staff Sgt. Nick Crouse, a medical technician with the 193rd Special Operations Wing's Medical Group out of Middletown, Pennsylvania, takes the blood pressure of a patient. Heart disease, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are three ailments that take a huge toll on the body as it ages. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Air Force Staff Sgt. Nick Crouse, a medical technician with the 193rd Special Operations Wing's Medical Group out of Middletown, Pennsylvania, takes the blood pressure of a patient. Heart disease, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are three ailments that take a huge toll on the body as it ages. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health

MEDEVAC Helicopter

Photo
9/23/2016
It is important for Soldiers to know what to expect when a MEDEVAC helicopter arrives and how to approach the helicopters, load patients aboard and how to interact with their crew chief and flight medic in order to do ground handoffs. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Chlosta)

It is important for Soldiers to know what to expect when a MEDEVAC helicopter arrives and how to approach the helicopters, load patients aboard and how to interact with their crew chief and flight medic in order to do ground handoffs. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Chlosta)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Soldiers from the 7th Mission Support Command

Photo
9/23/2016
Soldiers from the 7th Mission Support Command, Medical Support Unit-Europe conduct medical evacuation training with Staff Sgt. Jessie Turner, flight medic with the 1st Armored Division's Combat Aviation Brigade. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Chlosta)

Soldiers from the 7th Mission Support Command, Medical Support Unit-Europe conduct medical evacuation training with Staff Sgt. Jessie Turner, flight medic with the 1st Armored Division's Combat Aviation Brigade. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Chlosta)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Ukrainian soldiers on field litter ambulances

Photo
9/20/2016
A Ukrainian Soldier uses hand signals during a ground guide exercise of field litter ambulance familiarization on the driving range at Yavoriv Training Area, Ukraine. A team of medics and a mechanic from 557th Medical Company and 212th Combat Support Hospital are working together to conduct field littler ambulance and medical equipment  familiarization with the Ukrainian military. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Jeku)

A Ukrainian Soldier uses hand signals during a ground guide exercise of field litter ambulance familiarization on the driving range at Yavoriv Training Area, Ukraine. A team of medics and a mechanic from 557th Medical Company and 212th Combat Support Hospital are working together to conduct field littler ambulance and medical equipment familiarization with the Ukrainian military. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Jeku)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Big Rescue Kanagawa 2016

Photo
9/20/2016
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Reginaldo Cagampan, left, and Navy Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Rocky Pambid, members of the U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka Emergency Response Team, treat a simulated patient during the 2016 Big Rescue Kanagawa Disaster Prevention Joint Drill in Yokosuka city, Japan. Multiple agencies took part in the drill including the U.S. Navy, Army and Air Force, as well as personnel from the Japan Self-Defense Force and Japanese government agencies. (U.S. Navy photo by Greg Mitchell)

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Reginaldo Cagampan, left, and Navy Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Rocky Pambid, members of the U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka Emergency Response Team, treat a simulated patient during the 2016 Big Rescue Kanagawa Disaster Prevention Joint Drill in Yokosuka city, Japan. Multiple agencies took part in the drill including the U.S. Navy, Army and Air Force, as well as personnel from the Japan Self-Defense Force and Japanese government agencies. (U.S. Navy photo by Greg Mitchell)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Breathing techniques

Photo
2/26/2016
Airmen and Soldiers practice breathing and relaxation during their off duty time in a deployed location. Stress can take its toll on your mental and physical health, including your heart health, but there are breathing techniques to buffer yourself from it. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Lance Cheung)

Airmen and Soldiers practice breathing and relaxation during their off duty time in a deployed location. Stress can take its toll on your mental and physical health, including your heart health, but there are breathing techniques to buffer yourself from it. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Lance Cheung)

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Mental Wellness
<< < 1 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 13 Page 1 of 1

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing: Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.