Designed and created by Guideline Central in participation with the Wilderness Medical Society
Prevention and Management of Tick-Borne Illness in the United States
Publication Date: October 9, 2021
Last Updated: March 3, 2023
This patient summary means to discuss key recommendations from the Wilderness Medical Society for Prevention and Management of Tick-Borne Illness in the United States.
- There are seven most common tick-borne illnesses in the United States: Lyme disease, tularemia, babesiosis, and spotted fever are the most recognizable.
- The most common cause of tick-borne illness is outdoor exposure in an endemic (known to harbor the disease) area.
- Symptoms include flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, headache, body aches and pains), intestinal complaints, skin rashes, swollen lymph nodes and others specific to the disease.
- This patient summary focuses on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of tick-borne disease in areas with limited medical resources.
- Wear long-sleeved, light-colored clothing.
- Apply DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) picaridin or permethrin to the skin and clothes based on the concentration of the repellant.
- Inspect for and immediately remove ticks from skin and clothes
- Bathe after being outdoors.
- Wash clothes in hot water and dry on Hot.
- Public education
- Other prevention options
- Reducing the nearby population of host animals (small rodents and larger game) and the amount of host habitat – long grass and leaf litter.
- Spraying appropriate insecticides
- Vaccination – not currently available in the United States.
- Identifying the species of tick aids in the diagnosis.
- Signs, symptoms and laboratory tests can lead to a diagnosis
- Lyme disease is the most dangerous. Therefore, there is a recommendation for early tetracycline treatment after confirmed exposure.
- For other tick-borne diseases, diagnosis precedes treatment.
- Antibiotics are effective for all non-viral tick-borne diseases.
- Everyone planning to spend time with groups in remote, endemic locations should have basic training in managing tick-borne diseases.
Ho BM, Davis HE, Forrester JD, Sheele JM, Haston T, Sanders L, Lee MC, Lareau S, Caudell M, Davis CB. Wilderness Medical Society Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Tick-Borne Illness in the United States. Wilderness Environ Med. 2021 Dec;32(4):474-494. doi: 10.1016/j.wem.2021.09.001. Epub 2021 Oct 9. PMID: 34642107.
The information in this patient summary should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.