CDC Report: Illness From Tick Bites Rising, Symptoms, Prevention

Warming weather means spending more time outside for most, whether it's to play with the dog or go for a hike. But before heading out it's important to consider putting on some insect repellant or covering up.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last week that illnesses due to bites from mosquitoes, fleas and ticks are on the rise. The insects may seem like they're simply pesky but they actually can carry dangerous pathogens that cause illness. Since 2004, the number of reported cases of disease have tripled, according to the CDC.

Ticks alone caused nearly 500,000 disease cases between 2004 and 2016 throughout the 50 states and United States territories, CDC data shows. The diseases ticks carry include Lyme, Anaplasmosis/ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis and other serious illnesses, according to the CDC. Part of the reason the number of cases has increased has to do with the fact that, "The geographic range of ticks that spread the bacteria that cause Lyme disease has steadily expanded over the past 20 years," a CDC spokesperson told Newsweek.

tick illness
Disease cases from infected mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas have tripled in 13 years, according to the CDC. Centers for Disease Control


While symptoms vary from disease to disease there are a few that are common across them. Fever and chills are fairly common with tick-borne illness, according to the CDC. Other flu-like symptoms can also accompany the bite, like headache, fatigue and sometimes joint and muscle pain. The rashes vary based on the specific disease and type of tick.

Lyme disease is the most common disease transmitted through tick bites and has a few telling symptoms that people should look out for, according to the National Parks Service. In the Northeast or North Central states, the deer tick carries Lyme, and in the West, the black-legged tick carries it. Those who find one of those ticks on them should monitor the area for a rash. It may appear with a clear center and a red ring, or could be red all around, and can appear up to weeks after the bite happens. Some people never get a rash and only experience flu-like symptoms, arthritis, or nervous symptom problems, according to the NPS.


The first piece of advice the CDC has for those who find a tick on them is not to panic and to grab a pair of tweezers. The tick should be grabbed as close to the surface of the skin as possible and pulled directly out, no twisting necessary. The goal is to get the entire tick—including the mouth—out of the skin. Everything should be cleaned thoroughly afterward with soap and water or alcohol and the tick should be put in a sealed bag and disposed of or flushed, according to the CDC.


The best way to prevent getting sick is to prevent getting bitten in the first place. Wearing long sleeves and pants, and wearing clothes and shoes treated with permethrin can help keep the bugs off, a CDC spokesperson told Newsweek. Additionally, protecting pets and animals from ticks is an important step.

A researcher studies ticks at the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) in Bilthoven on August 18, 2016. The CDC released a report that shows tick, flea and mosquito-borne illnesses are up in the United States. Robin van Lonkhuijsen/Getty Images