Each year Texans contract Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis and Relapsing Fever. All of these diseases are transmitted by the bite of an infected tick. If caught early, these diseases can almost always be cured. If left untreated, they can be serious or even fatal.

Early symptoms of these diseases mimic the "flu", and include fever, headache, tiredness, stiff neck or neck pain, muscle aches, and joint pain.

 Ticks
 Diseases

Sometimes a rash is present
at the site of the tick bite.

If you develop flu-like symptoms (with or without a rash) after a tick bite, you should see a physician right away.

Stand Up For Lyme

STAND UP FOR LYME is a small, focused group of Texas patients and other interested parties working to promote Lyme disease awareness and education to other patients, the public, and medical professionals, and to act as a resource for Texas legislators and agencies. To meet its mission goals, the organization will advocate actively to assure timely patient access to competent, effective and quality medical care, including the support of medical practitioners who choose to practice in Texas as qualified Lyme specialists.
www.standupforlyme.org
Stand Up For Lyme was recently formed as a Texas non-profit organization operating as a 501(c)(4).

More Information:

What is Lyme Disease? - Texas Lyme Disease Association

Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases in Texas (PDF)* (923KB)

Lyme Disease - English (PDF)* (54KB)
Lyme Disease - Spanish (PDF)* (54KB)

*(Adobe Acrobat reader required - download.)

Photo of rash associated with Lyme Disease
Photo of rash associated with Lyme Disease

Additional Notes:

Avoiding Ticks is the Best Way to Prevent Diseases They Carry

Warm days and sunny skies draw many people outdoors this time of year. The same environment also brings out the insects, many of which carry diseases.

“It’s tick time in Texas,” said Glenna Teltow, a medical entomologist with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). “Ticks often are found in the same spots people like to visit – wooded, brushy and grassy areas.”

"A bite from an infected tick can cause illnesses such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia and human ehrlichiosis. With prompt medical attention, these illnesses almost always can be successfully treated with antibiotics. But if people do not recognize the symptoms and seek treatment, the illnesses can be serious, some even fatal," Teltow said.

In Texas, the tick most likely to attach to humans is the lone star tick. “This tick, which is about the size of a watermelon seed, will readily feed on human blood,” Teltow said. “The lone star female tick is easily recognized by a single white dot on her back, while the male tick has white markings around the edges of his back.”

The most frequently diagnosed tick-borne illness in Texas is Lyme disease, a bacterial infection that can cause skin, joint, heart and nervous system problems. The disease usually begins with a characteristic “bull’s-eye” rash followed by fatigue, headache, fever, stiff neck and joint pain. Symptoms usually appear in 7 to 14 days.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a serious disease transmitted most commonly by the bite of an infected tick. People who remove ticks also can become infected if they crush ticks between their fingers, allowing the bacteria to penetrate the skin or come in contact with mucous membranes. Initial symptoms, following an incubation period of 3 to 14 days, include sudden onset of high fever, headache, chills and muscle aches. A rash often appears a few days later. Prompt medical attention is extremely important because Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be fatal without prompt treatment with antibiotics.

Tularemia is a bacterial disease affecting animals and humans. It can be spread through a tick bite or through contact with blood or tissue from infected animals, especially wild rabbits, or by handling or eating undercooked meat from infected animals. Symptoms include fever, an ulcerative skin sore at the site of the tick bite and painful swollen lymph glands. If the organism is ingested, the person may have a throat infection, abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting.

In Texas, human ehrlichiosis is a rare disease with fewer than 10 cases reported each year. Most infections cause a sudden onset of illness with fever, chills, headache and in general feeling ill, usually beginning about 12 days after the tick bite.

“Avoiding ticks is always the best prevention for any of these diseases,” Teltow said. “Keep ticks off pets and discourage unwanted animals such as rats, mice and stray dogs and cats around the home.” Other suggestions from DSHS:

  • If you are in an area with ticks, check your body carefully for them every few hours. Ticks are small and can be hard to see, and they can attach to any part of the body.
  • Stay on trails, avoiding areas of overgrown brush and tall grasses.
  • Wear light-colored clothes so that ticks are more easily spotted. Protect skin from ticks by wearing a hat, long-sleeved shirt and long pants tucked into boots or socks.
  • Use insect repellent containing DEET applied to the skin or permethrin applied to clothing. Follow label directions.
  • Check pets frequently and remove ticks from them immediately.
For more information, contact your local health department,
or the Texas Department of State Health Services.