Most tickborne diseases in the United States are transmitted from one of just a few tick species. But with so many names for them, we wanted to clear up the “who’s who” in the tick world as best we can. Here’s the line-up with the most common two at the top of the list.
BLACKLEGGED TICK / DEER TICK / SEED TICK / BEAR TICK (Ixodes scapularis)
Widely distributed in the northeastern and upper mid-western United States.
Transmits : Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and Powassan disease.
LONE STAR TICK / NORTHEASTERN WATER TICK / TURKEY TICK (Amblyomma americanum)
Widely distributed in the southeastern and eastern United States.
Transmits : Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Ehrlichia ewingii, tularemia, and STARI.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN WOOD TICK (Dermacentor andersoni)
AMERICAN DOG TICK (Dermacentor variabilis)
East of the Rocky Mountains. Also occurs in limited areas on the Pacific Coast.
Transmits : Tularemia and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
GULF COAST TICK (Amblyomma maculatum)
Found in coastal areas of the southern United States and some inland states further north.
Transmits: Rickettsia parkeri
GROUNDHOG TICK / WOODCHUCK TICK (Ixodes cookei)
Throughout eastern half of U.S. and Canada
Transmits: Powassan disease
WESTERN BLACKLEGGED TICK / PACIFIC COAST TICK (Ixodes pacificus)
California through the Pacific Northwest
SOFT TICKS (Argasidae)
Found across the U.S. in 15 states
Transmits: Tickborne Relapsing Fever (TBRF)
If You Are Bitten By a Tick
First, always take the tick off as soon as you see it. There are wrong ways to remove it and a better way. We recommend using the Tick Wrangler tool, available at Beneficial Botanicals.
Second, save the tick in a zip lock bag so it can be evaluated for testing. Identifying which type of tick helps to diagnose just what disease it could be carrying. If you want to have the tick tested first, before a human test, you can send it to the Bay Area Lyme Foundation for FREE testing.
Third, realize that the bull’s-eye rash only happens about 20 percent of the time. It can often look like a spider bite or a bruise. So, don’t assume you are in the clear if you don’t see one.
Testing for Lyme Disease
According to Dr. Zubcevik, attending physician at Harvard Medical School and co-director of Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown (SRH), research has shown there are 10 different strains of Lyme disease in the United States, and many of them do not test positive on the traditional two-tier ELISA/Western Blot test. With this current testing, 69 out of 100 patients who have Lyme disease may go untreated.
The two-tier ELISA/Western Blot test is used to detect two specific antibodies, IgG and IgM, present in the body which are produced by the immune system’s response to an infection, indicating exposure. It takes 4-6 weeks for IgG antibodies to be produced and 14 days for IgM antibodies to appear. A negative test result does not mean a person does not have Lyme. There may not have been time for antibodies to develop. The immune system may be suppressed. The patient may be infected with a strain the test does not detect.
IGenX Inc. offers human testing for Lyme Disease which combines result criteria of more significant, specific proteins with testing of 2 strains of B. burgdorferi, thus comprising the most comprehensive testing to date.
In addition to Lyme disease, there are coinfections such as babesiosis, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, and tularemia. These can go undetected as with Babesiosis, which is a malaria-like disease that can persist for months or even years. Renowned herbalist and scholar, Stephen Buhner thoroughly covers coinfections in two of his books “Healing Lyme Disease Coinfections: Complementary & Holistic Treatments for Bartonella and Mycoplasma” and “Natural Treatments for Lyme Coinfections: Anaplasma, Babesia, and Ehrlichia”.
List of Tickborne Diseases
Listed are the names of tickborne diseases, the organism(s) that causes them, and the tick(s) that can carry the organism.
Anaplasmosis – caused by Anaplasma phagocytophilum – Blacklegged Tick (Deer Tick), Western Blacklegged Tick
Babesiosis – caused by Babesia microti – Blacklegged Tick
Bourbon virus – (new, limited information)
Colorado tick fever – caused by Coltivirus species – Rocky Mountain Wood Tick
Ehrlichiosis – caused by Ehrlichia chaffeensis – Lone Star Tick
Heartland virus – caused by Bhanja virus – Lone Star Tick
Lyme disease – caused by Borrelia mayonii and Borrelia burgdorfer – Blacklegged Tick
Powassan disease – caused by Flavivirus species – Blacklegged Tick, Groundhog Tick
Rickettsiosis – caused by Rickettsia parkeri – Gulf Coast Tick
Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) – caused by rickettsia parkeri – American Dog Tick, Rocky Mountain Wood Tick
Southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI) – caused by unknown organism – Lone Star Tick
Tickborne relpasing fever (TBRF) – caused by Borrelia hermsii – Soft Tick
Tularemia – caused by Francisella tularensis – American Dog Tick, Rocky Mountain Wood Tick, Lone Star Tick
364D rickettsiosis – (new, limited information)
Bay Area Lyme Foundation
Visiting physician sheds new light on Lyme disease on a visit to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital; Dr. Nevena Zubcevik challenged
conventional diagnosis and treatment of tick-borne diseases. By Barry Stringfellow – July 13, 2016
Beyond Lyme: New Tick Born Diseases on the Rise in U.S. / Aired on NPR’s All Things Considered March 11, 2017
Trail Mob http://trailmob.com/outdoor-skills/
Scott Bauer. – Blacklegged Tick https://commons.wikimedia.org
CDC – US Centers for Disease Control – Division of Vector Borne Infectious Diseases – Lone Star Tick
Jerry Kirkhart from Los Osos, Calif. – American Dog Tick (Dermacentor variabilis), CC BY 2.0
CDC/ Dr. Christopher Paddock/ James Gathany – Gulf Coast Tick
University of Maine Cooperative https://extension.umaine.edu/ – Woodchuck Tick
Dr. Amanda Loftis, Dr. William Nicholson, Dr. Will Reeves, Dr. Chris Paddock/ James Gathany – Western Blacklegged Tick
Wiki Federal Republic of Germany https://www.wiki.arages.de