Tick-Borne Diseases

Ticks are carriers of several diseases for humans and pets in Northeast Ohio, including these most common ones:

To remove a tick which has burrowed into your skin, use a method that is proven to work:

  • The best way to remove a tick is to use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
  • Pull away from your skin with steady, even pressure.
  • Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin.  If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers.  If you are unable to remove the mouth-parts easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  • Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape or flushing it down the toilet.  Never crush a tick with your fingers.
  • Wash your hands and the bite area with soap and water.
  • Do not use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish or any other ‘folk’ remedies to remove a tick.  These methods do not work.  (information courtesy of ODH.gov)

You can find pictures of ticks on Tickspotters.org to identify different types of ticks.  If you take a picture of the tick after you remove it, you can send it to an organization such as Tickspotters.org for identification of the type of tick it is. 

Also, local health departments in Ohio may submit ticks (or photos of ticks) year-round to the Ohio Department of Health for species identification.  At this time the ODH Lab does not test ticks for disease.  Call your local health department for more information about tick identification.

Lyme Disease

What Is Lyme Disease?

Lyme Disease is a bacterial disease transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.

Diagnosis is based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks.  Laboratory testing is helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics.

Steps to prevent Lyme disease include using insect repellent, removing ticks promptly, applying pesticides, and reducing tick habitat. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tickborne diseases as well.

Lyme disease cases are increasing in Ohio as the range of blacklegged tick populations continues to expand in the state and encounters with this tick occur more frequently, particularly in the forest habitats preferred by this tick.

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. In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours or more before the Lyme disease bacterium can be transmitted.

Most humans are infected through the bites of immature ticks called nymphs. Nymphs are tiny (less than 2 mm) and difficult to see; they feed during the spring and summer months. Adult ticks can also transmit Lyme disease bacteria, but they are much larger and are more likely to be discovered and removed before they have had time to transmit the bacteria. Adult Ixodes ticks are most active during the cooler months of the year.