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Tick-Borne Diseases

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The UMass Laboratory of Medical Zoology, through the UMass Extension Tick-Borne Disease Diagnostic Clinic, analyzes ticks for the presence of the pathogens listed below.  All species of ticks do not carry all of these pathogens. If you submit a tick and request analysis for a specific disease we will carry out your instructions. If you are unsure of the identity of your tick, you can submit it for identification and Lyme disease analysis and have further analysis conducted the following week or later, or contact us by email at:"> .

We recommend URI Tick Encounter for preliminary identification of ticks.

Lyme disease (Borrelia burdorferi)

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected deer ticks and blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis and Ixodes pacificus). Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a “bulls eye” skin rash called erythema migrans. In 2011, 27% of the ticks tested in our lab carried this pathogen.
For further information, see: .

Anaplasmosis (Anaplasma phagocytophilum)

Anaplasmosis is caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilum and is transmitted to humans by tick bites primarily from the black-legged (deer) tick (Ixodes scapularis) and the western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus). It was previously known as human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE) or human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA).  Typical symptoms include: fever, headache, chills, and muscle aches.  Usually, these symptoms occur within 1-2 weeks of a tick bite.
For more information see:

Babesiosis (Babesia microti)

Babesiosis is caused by microscopic parasites that infect red blood cells. Babesia microti is spread by blacklegged ticks or deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis). It mainly occurs in parts of the Northeast and upper Midwest; and it usually peaks during the warm months. Babesia infection can range in severity from asymptomatic to life-threatening. The infection is both treatable and preventable.
For more information see:

Bartonellosis (Bartonella henselae)

Bartonella are bacteria that live inside cells; they can infect humans and other mammals. It is mainly carried by cats and causes cat-scratch disease, endocarditis, and several other serious diseases in humans. Bartonella bacteria are known to be carried by fleas, body lice and ticks. Scientists suspect that ticks are a source of infection in some human cases of bartonellosis. People with tick bites and no known exposure to cats have acquired the disease.
For more information see:

STARI (Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness) (Borrelia lonestari - putative)

STARI is found in the southeastern and eastern U.S and is transmitted by the lone star tick (Ambylomma americanum). A rash similar to the rash of Lyme disease has been described in humans following bites of the lone star tick. The rash may be accompanied by fatigue, fever, headache, muscle and joint pains. This condition has been named southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI).
For more information see:

Tularemia (Francisella tularensis)

Tularemia occurs throughout the U.S. and is transmitted to humans by the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), the wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni), lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) and, in the western U.S., by deer flies. Humans can also contract the disease through skin contact with infected animals, ingestion of contaminated water and inhalation of contaminated dusts.
For more information see:

Human Monocytotropic Ehrlichiosis (Ehrlichia chaffeensis)

HME occurs across the south-central, southeastern, and mid-Atlantic states. In 2001-2002, the incidence was highest in Missouri, Tennessee, and Oklahoma. The primary vector is the lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum). HME has been found in California in Pacific blacklegged ticks (Ixodes pacificus) and American dog ticks (Dermacentor variabilis)
For more information see:

Ehrlichiosis (Ehrlichia canis)

Ehrlichia canis is the cause of canine monocytic ehrlichiosis in dogs. It transmitted by the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus).
For more information see:

Rocky Mountain spotted fever (Rickettsia rickettsii)

Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is caused by the bacterium, Rickettsia rickettsii, and is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected tick species including the American dog tick, Rocky Mountain wood tick and brown dog tick, but NOT the black-legged (deer) tick.  The disease has been found throughout the United States but particularly in a band from North Carolina to Oklahoma.  For further information, see

Borrelia miyamotoi

Borrelia miyamotoi is a relative of Lyme disease that has been recently identified in people in the United States.  In the U.S., it is transmitted by black-legged (deer) ticks and Pacific black-legged ticks. Human symptoms are similar to those Lyme disease but also include relapsing (reoccurring) fever: a rash does not appear. Recent studies found B. miyamotoi 1-2% of deer ticks in RI, and in 1-4% of deer ticks in MA

For discussions on other tick-borne diseases we recommend:

National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases

Tick Management Handbook (Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station)