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Tick Bite Illnesses: A Major Public Health Concern in Vermont
Illnesses spread by ticks are a serious public health concern in Vermont. You can find ticks throughout Vermont whenever temperatures are above freezing, most commonly during spring through fall.
There are no vaccines available to prevent illnesses from tick bites, but clinical trials are underway for Lyme disease vaccines. The best way to protect yourself is to prevent tick bites, remove attached ticks as soon as possible, and call your doctor if you get sick after a tick bite.
Currently, there are five tick bite illnesses in the state:
Lyme disease is the most common and cases of anaplasmosis and babesiosis have increased over the last ten years. While cases of hard tick relapsing fever and Powassan virus have occurred in Vermont, they are less common.
Tick Bite Prevention
Preventing tick bites is the key to preventing tick bite illnesses. The best way is to avoid where ticks live, such as wooded and brushy areas—particularly during spring through fall in Vermont, which is when ticks are biting.
If you can’t avoid these areas, we suggest wearing EPA-registered insect repellent and protective clothing such as pants, long-sleeved shirts, and long socks outside. Always check your body, clothing, gear, and pets for ticks and shower soon after returning inside.
While it may be scary to find a tick attached to your body or loved one's body, they are common and easy to remove. You do not need to see a health care provider to have a tick removed. Following these steps, you can quickly and effectively remove the tick at home.
When To See A Provider
Ticks can be hard to spot but the symptoms of tick bite illnesses are not. While not everyone gets sick after a tick bite, some people will get sick 3-30 days after a tick bite. Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, hard tick relapsing fever, and Powassan virus can have very similar flu-like symptoms early in illness. Call your health care provider if you develop any of these symptoms after a tick bite.
- Muscle aches
- Rash (Lyme disease only)
- Joint pain (Lyme disease only)
Most people who begin treatment for a tick bite illness early on fully recover.