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Healthcare Providers

Many tick-borne diseases can be difficult to diagnose due to the non-specific signs and symptoms in the early stages of illness. Signs and symptoms can vary from patient to patient and can resemble other, more common diseases. Nonetheless, early consideration of tick-borne diseases in the differential diagnosis and empiric treatment is crucial to prevent severe illness and even death when it comes to Rickettsial diseases.

Always take a thorough patient history, including:

  • Recent tick bite. Many people do not remember being bitten. Do not rule out a tickborne infection if your patient does not remember a tick bite.
  • Exposure to areas where ticks are commonly found, including wooded areas or brushy areas with high grasses and leaf litter.
  • Travel history to areas where tick-borne diseases are endemic.

To report a patient with a tickborne disease, please complete the Communicable Disease REPORT Card.

For CDC guidance on Lyme disease testing, see the Two-Tier Testing Decision Tree.

CDC: Tickborne Diseases of the United States: A Reference Manual for Healthcare Providers (6.8 MB)

For more in-depth education, see the CDC's Toolkit for Healthcare Providers. The toolkit provides the following helpful elements:


Lyme Disease

Spotted Fever


Page last updated: November 20, 2023