Are Ticks Dangerous? A Guide to Tick-Borne Diseases

Just by looking at pictures of a tick, you can see that they’re revolting creatures. You’d probably recoil in horror if you see them live and all bloated from the blood they sucked. But apart from their disgusting nature, are ticks dangerous as well?

Tick bites are usually harmless except in cases where the person is allergic to them. The bloodsuckers are also easy to remove by rubbing gauze soaked with soap until they fall off.

However, it’s not their bite but the diseases that some ticks carry that should concern you.

Ticks can host and transmit pathogens to humans as they suck on their blood. Some of the diseases can be fatal. For example, the CDC refers to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) as the “most deadly tick-borne disease in the world.”

Find out more about some of the more common tick-borne diseases by reading below.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is named after Lyme, Connecticut. In 1975, children and adults in the town of Lyme experienced unusual arthritic symptoms. Scientists linked the illness to the black-legged tick. They later found out that these ticks carried the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi.

It’s the most common tick-borne disease in the US. Around the bite site, you may see a red patch that looks like a “bull’s eye.” Other symptoms include severe joint pain and swelling, fever, chills, and additional rashes.

Lyme disease deaths are rare but possible if the patient develops complications such as carditis.

Are Ticks Dangerous? Case in Point: RMSF

Transmitted by the American dog tick, RMSF, or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, can cause severe damage to the blood vessels. A previously healthy person can die within eight days of experiencing symptoms if the disease is left untreated.

If there’s a tick-borne disease that makes you want to call the pros who know what to do about ticks, it’s RMSF. Check out Green Pest Services tick control for more information.

Some of the symptoms of RMSF include fever, headache, rash, nausea, and vomiting. If you allow the bacteria to wreak havoc, the destruction of blood vessels can lead to organ and tissue damage.


Powassan is another disease named after a town, but this time in Canada. The pathogen is a virus instead of bacteria, which comprise most tick-borne infections. Like RMSF, the Powassan virus is incredibly hazardous to human health.

It attacks the brain cells and the tissues around it. The resulting encephalitis can be fatal or lead to serious long-term health effects. Because it’s a virus, it’s harder to treat since you can’t use traditional antibiotics.

Other Tick-Borne Illnesses

Ticks are carriers of a wide variety of pathogens. They can have similar signs and symptoms. Some of the common symptoms of tick-borne diseases include fever, chills, muscle aches and pains, and rashes.

Most are bacterial infections like anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, and tularemia. Babesiosis is unique like Powassan because it’s a protozoan infection instead of bacterial. Typically, the severity of these diseases depends on the immune system health of the patient and how prompt the treatment was started.

Don’t Just Get Ticked Off, Protect Your Health

Are ticks dangerous? While not all of them carry diseases, and not all bites can lead to infections, there are more than enough reasons to make you want to stay away from them. Some tick bites are merely annoying, but some can have deadly consequences.

Make sure that your home and its surroundings are always tick-free.

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