What to watch for: The bull’s-eye rash that most of the people with Lyme disease develop, as well as the deer ticks that spread the disease.
That’s especially important if you live in the Northeast or upper Midwest, where the sesame seed-sized ticks are most common. While the rash usually expands over a few days, in some cases you see only part of the circle, or it may appear solid or blotchy.
Ticks can also cause other diseases, including ehrlichiosis (especially in southern states) and Rocky Mountain spotted fever (which, despite its name, is most common in southern Atlantic states from Delaware to Florida).
Both of those conditions are less likely to cause rashes. But all three can cause flulike symptoms, including chills and fever, fatigue, headaches, and sore muscles or joints. The symptoms of ehrlichiosis come on suddenly and hit hard, with high fever, splitting headaches, and debilitating muscle aches.
What to do: Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, socks, and closed-toe shoes when you’re in woodsy or grassy areas during late spring and summer. Tuck shirts into pants and pants into socks. And wear light-colored clothes to make it easier to spot the ticks.
Apply insect repellent containing deet, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Inspect your skin when you go indoors and remove any attached ticks, preferably with tweezers so you remove the entire tick.
Get treated if you have signs or symptoms of any of the diseases and you suspect a tick-borne illness. Prompt treatment with inexpensive antibiotics is very effective for all three infections and can prevent more serious long-term complications, including extreme fatigue and facial paralysis with Lyme disease, potentially life-threatening secondary infections such as pneumonia with ehrlichiosis, and widespread damage to the joints,heart, and kidney with Rocky Mountain spotted fever.