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Tickborne Diseases

The Great Alabama Tick Survey graphic

Tickborne diseases are transmitted to a person from the bite of an infected tick. Some common ticks in Alabama are the Blacklegged (Deer), American Dog (Wood), and Lone Star. Ticks typically dwell in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas. Although they are more active in the early spring and late fall months, tickborne illnesses have been reported year-round in Alabama. It is vital to remain vigilant by conducting tick checks whenever you return from the outdoors. For more information, look below on how to prevent and remove ticks.

For more information on tickborne disease case counts, see our Data page.

Find a Tick?

If you find a tick on a person or a pet while outside, the tick can be sent to the University of South Alabama for tick identification. Find more information on how and where to send the tick at The Great Alabama Tick Survey.

Grant Announcement from the Alabama Study Commission on Tickborne Illness

Applications for the 2024 Tick-Borne Disease Research Program are being solicited by the Alabama Study Commission on Tick-Borne Illness. The amount awarded will be $75,000 provided that the research facility/ University matches funding with $25,000 whether that be in dollars or in-kind services. Application Deadline: 01/15/2024.

Download the flyer for more information.

Diseases

Ticks can transmit different diseases, but the most common under surveillance in Alabama include:

phc-ticks-al.webp

There are other rare tickborne diseases of public health concern reported in Alabama that include:

  • Tularemia
  • Babesiosis
  • Powassan Virus
  • Alpha-gal syndrome
  • Typhus fevers

Symptoms

Early symptoms of tickborne diseases can be variable, but often include fever, muscle aches, headaches, fatigue, and/or rash. Sometimes, tickborne diseases may become severe or even life-threatening if not treated. For example, untreated spotted fever rickettsiosis may lead to encephalitis, shock, seizures, gangrene, and/or acute respiratory or renal failure within a week of becoming sick. Untreated Lyme disease may cause arthritis as well as various neurologic and cardiac problems days to months after first becoming ill.

Treatment

If you think you may have a tickborne disease, see your doctor immediately. He or she will evaluate your symptoms, exposure history, and test results to determine your best treatment course. Most tickborne diseases are easily treated with antibiotics; early treatment can help you avoid serious complications.

Prevention

You can lower your risk of getting a tickborne disease while outdoors by:

  • Avoiding wooded and brushy areas where ticks tend to live:
  • Walking in the center of trails
  • Using repellent that contains at least 20% DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin
  • Treating clothes with 0.5% permethrin
  • Finding and removing ticks from your body and clothing within 2 hours of coming indoors

To safely remove a tick attached to your skin:

  • Use tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible.
  • Pull upward on the tick with steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick.
  • Dispose of a live tick by submerging it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed container, or flushing it down the toilet.
  • Clean the bite area and your hands with soap and water, rubbing alcohol, or an iodine scrub after removing the tick.

General Resources





Page last updated: December 22, 2023