Tick-borne Illnesses

As we approach tick season, we are proving some reminders on how to identify and seek testing for tick-borne illnesses.


Tick-borne pathogens can be passed to humans by the bite of infected ticks. Ticks can be infected with bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Some of the most common tick-borne diseases in the United States include: Lyme disease, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, anaplasmosis, Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness, Tick-Borne Relapsing Fever, and tularemia. Lyme disease is the most commonly reported tick-borne disease in the United States. 


  1. Know where to expect ticks. Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, or on animals. Spending time outside could bring you in close contact with ticks. 
  2. Use insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5% permethrin if you are spending long amounts of time outdoors, like hiking or camping.
  3. Check for ticks after spending time outdoors, especially under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and on the hairline and scalp.
  4. Shower soon after being outdoors.

Removing a Tick

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. It is important to remove the tick as soon as possible. Avoid using nail polish, petroleum jelly, or heat to make the tick detach from the skin.
  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin.  If you are unable to remove the mouth parts easily, leave them alone and let the skin heal.
  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.

You may also make an appointment with Health Services to remove a tick, but remember it is important to remove it as soon as possible to avoid infection.


If you are seeking testing for lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses, please make an appointment with Health Services. You may be eligible to receive a prophylactic dose of antibiotics to prevent lyme disease after a tick bite. This will not prevent other tick-borne illnesses, so continue to monitor yourself for symptoms of rash, fever, and other symptoms after a bite.

Additional Information

For more information about tick-borne illnesses, please visit the CDC website. If you have questions, you may contact Health services by calling 508-793-2276 or emailing healthservices@holycross.edu.