Diseases that can be Transmitted by Ticks


Not all ticks spread disease and you won't get sick from every tick bite, but it is important to make sure you stay aware of ticks, the illnesses that they cause, and how to prevent tick bites. There are many different kinds of ticks, but the most common ticks that people come across in North Dakota are the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis) and the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis), also commonly known as the deer tick. Sometimes ticks carry germs like bacteria or viruses that can be transmitted to a person while the tick is attached and feeding. Avoiding tick bites is the best way to avoid getting these diseases.


Anaplasmosis is caused by the bacterium Anaplama phagocytophilum and is transmitted to humans by tick bites primarily from the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis) and the western blacklegged tick (Ixodes pacificus) along the Pacific coast. Symptoms of anaplasmosis include fever, headache, chills, and muscle aches. Anaplasmosis became reportable in North Dakota in 2011.


Babesiosis is caused by microscopic parasites that infect red blood cells. Most human cases of babesiosis in the United States are caused by Babesia microti and is transmitted by the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis). Many people who have babesiosis do not have any symptoms. Some people may experience fever, chills, sweats, headache, body aches, nausea, or fatigue. Babesiosis became reportable in North Dakota in 2011. 


Ehrlichiosis is the general name used to describe diseases caused by the bacteria Ehrlichia chaffeensis, E. ewingii, or E. muris eauclairensis. These bacteria are spread through the bite of infected lone star ticks (Amblyomma americanum and the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis). Symptoms of ehrlichiosis include fever, chills, headache, muschle aches, and sometimes upset stomach. Ehrlichiosis became reportable in North Dakota in 2011.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis). Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. Lyme Disease became reportable in North Dakota in 1988.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a bacterial disease spread through the bite of an infected dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis) Most people who get sick with RMSF will have a fever, headache, and rash. RMSF became reportable in North Dakota in 1944.


Tularemia is a bacterial disease casued by Francisella tularensis. It usually affects wild mammals, but it can be transmitted to humans and domesticated animals (sheep and cats are especially susceptible). Ticks and deer flies are common vectors of the disease. Ticks that can transmit the bacteria to humans include the the dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis) and the lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum).

The bacteria can be transmitted by ingestion, inhalation, direct contact with mucous membranes and broken skin, or arthropod-borne transfer. Six different forms of tularemia can affect humans and the type of symptoms vary depending on how the person was infected. Tularemia became reportable in North Dakota in 1944.