Although most tick bites do not transmit pathogens, some bites do. It is not possible to determine if a tick is carrying pathogens visually. The following is a list of all of the major tick-borne diseases, the usual tick vector(s), and the pathogen(s) the tick transmits that may occur in the United States.
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever -- Dermacentor variabilis (American dog tick) and Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni) (hard tick) are the primary vectors and occasionally the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus); Amblyomma cajennense (hard tick) is the vector in countries south of the U.S. -- vectors for Rickettsia bacteria.
- Lyme disease -- Ixodes species including deer ticks (hard ticks) -- vectors for Borrelia species of bacteria.
- Babesiosis -- Ixodes species (hard ticks) -- vectors for Babesia, a protozoan.
- Ehrlichiosis -- Amblyomma americanum or lone star ticks (hard ticks) -- vectors for Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Ehrlichia ewingii bacterial species.
- Tick-borne relapsing fever -- Ornithodoros moubata or African tick (soft tick) -- vectors for Borrelia species of bacteria.
- Tularemia -- Dermacentor variabilis (American dog tick) (hard tick) and Amblyomma americanum or lone star tick (hard tick) -- vectors for Francisella tularensis bacteria.
- Anaplasmosis (human granulocytic anaplasmosis or HGA) -- Ixodes species (hard tick) -- vectors for Anaplasma phagocytophilum bacteria.
- Colorado tick fever -- Dermacentor andersoni (hard tick) -- vectors for Coltivirus, a RNA virus.
- Powassan encephalitis -- Ixodes species and Dermacentor andersoni (both hard ticks) -- vectors for Powassan encephalitis virus, an RNA arbovirus.
- Q fever -- Rhipicephalus sanguineus, Dermacentor andersoni, and Amblyomma americanum (all three are hard ticks) -- vectors for Coxiella burnetii, a bacterium.
- Southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI) -- Amblyomma americanum or lone star tick (hard tick) -- infectious agent not yet identified according to the CDC.
This list shows that some ticks, for example, Ixodes, can transmit more than one type of pathogenic microbe (virus, bacteria, and protozoa). It is possible to transmit more than one pathogen in a single tick bite, although this rarely occurs. Outbreaks of tick-related illnesses follow seasonal patterns (about April to September in the U.S.) as ticks evolve from larvae to adults.
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