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Lyme Disease

What is Pennsylvania doing about Lyme disease?

Lyme disease affects thousands of Pennsylvania each year. We are dedicating more resources to educate residents and raise awareness; prevent the spread of Lyme disease; and develop a surveillance network.

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

Early symptoms (3 to 30 days after tick bite) include:

  • fever
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • joint pain
  • skin rash that looks like a bull's eye (occurs in approximately 70 to 80 percent of infected persons)
  • other general symptoms may occur in the absence of rash

How is Lyme disease treated?

When detected early, Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics. People treated with appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely. Left untreated, the disease can spread to the joints, heart and nervous system.

How can I prevent tick bites?

  • Know where to expect ticks. Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, or even on animals. Many people get ticks in their own yard or neighborhood.
  • Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD) or 2-undecanone.
  • Check clothing, gear and pets for ticks after going indoors.
  • Shower within 2 hours of being outdoors.
  • Check your entire body for ticks and immediately remove any that you find.

How do I remove a tick from my body?

The CDC recommends these steps to remove a tick:

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
  4. Never crush a tick with your fingers. Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet.

Are there other tick-borne diseases?

Different types of ticks can carry other diseases that can be harmful to humans. View the CDC's list of tickborne diseases in the United States.