Lyme Disease

Black legged tick

Beware of the vampires! No, not that kind. These are hard to see and can give you Lyme disease. Ticks, especially the tiny nymphs, can attach to any part of the body. They generally need 36-48 hours to feed on your blood and can leave you with a parting gift ─ a red, expanding, rash! The rash won’t hurt or itch but it can come with fatigue, chills, fever, and body aches. Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics. If you’ve been bitten by a tick, or have been in areas where ticks are common, and have an unexplained fever or rash, see your health care provider.

Quiz

Key Facts

  • Symptoms of Lyme disease begin 3-30 days after a tick bite; average 7 days.
  • Of people who get Lyme disease, 70 to 80% develop a rash, called an erythema migrans.
  • The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can sometimes cause other diseases, too.
  • Only blacklegged ticks transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.

Media

Borrelia burgdorferi

Borrelia burgdorferi

A grouping of numerous Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, the organism responsible for causing Lyme disease.

Bull’s-eye Rash

Lyme Disease Rash (Erythema Migrans)

This photograph depicts the pattern of the classic “bull’s-eye” rash, also called an erythema migrans rash. Rashes caused by Lyme disease are large, expanding rashes that can range from red, to purple, to bluish. The do not always have the “bull’s-eye” appearance and sometimes resemble a bruise.

Man spraying insect repellent on arm

Use Repellents

Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5% permethrin.

Couple walking in the woods

Walking in the Woods

To avoid ticks, walk in the center of trails and avoid walking through tall bushes or other vegetation.

Woman walking dogs

Protect Your Pets

While it is a good idea to take preventive measures against ticks year-round, be extra vigilant in warmer months (April-September) when ticks are most active.

Woman gardening with protective clothing on

Dress to Protect

Ticks can attach to any part of the human body but are often found in hard-to-see areas such as the groin, armpits, and scalp.

Prevent Lyme Disease Among You and Your Children

Prevention Tips

  • Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Walk in the center of trails.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone. Always follow product instructions. EPA’s helpful search toolexternal icon can help you find the product that best suits your needs.
  • Check daily for ticks.
  • Take a shower soon after coming in from outdoors.
  • Carefully examine gear, pets, coats, and day packs. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors.
  • Call your doctor if you get a fever or rash.

More at CDC.gov

Page last reviewed: April 18, 2019