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Lyme Disease and Beyond: 5 Ways Ticks Make You Sick

These are the tick-borne illnesses you can contract in Canada. Find out which symptoms to watch out for.

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Tick-borne diseasesPhoto: Shutterstock

1. Lyme disease

This is an inflammatory condition caused by strains of Borrelia bacteria, carried by blacklegged ticks. It’s the most common tick-related illness, and it often comes with a rash, as well as fever, nausea and muscle and joint pain. Remember: ticks may thrive in deciduous forests but populations are spreading to more urban settings. To find out if Lyme disease-carrying ticks live near you, visit this Health Canada website to track problem areas listed by province.

Here’s what you need to know about lyme disease in Canada.

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Black-legged tickPhoto: Shutterstock

2. Babesiosis

Carried by blacklegged ticks, this illness is caused by the microscopic parasite Babesia microti. The parasite infects red blood cells, causing fevers, chills, headaches and fatigue. More severe cases can lead to jaundice, anemia and shortness of breath. How big is a tick? A youngster is the size of a poppyseed; a male, the equivalent of a sesame seed; a female measures up to a flaxseed. After they’ve fed, they get significantly larger. CanLyme offers some helpful charts to identify ticks.

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Black-legged tickPhoto: Shutterstock

3. Human granulocytic anaplasmosis

This infectious disease is spread by blacklegged ticks carrying the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilum. It attacks white blood cells and leads to fever, chills, headaches and muscle aches.

Don’t miss these four facts about Lyme disease you’ll wish you knew sooner.

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American dog tickPhoto: Shutterstock

4. Rocky Mountain spotted fever

Transmitted by an infected American dog tick or Rocky Mountain wood tick, this illness, luckily, has been mostly confined to the southern U.S. It typically shows up with a fever, headache, nausea and then a rash.

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Tick on human skinPhoto: Shutterstock

5. Powassan

This tick-borne virus that can be transmitted by the blacklegged tick but is extremely rare—only 21 cases have ever been reported in Canada. Some people don’t develop any symptoms; others have a fever, headache, vomiting or even inflammation of the brain and meningitis.

Found a tick—or worried you might soon? Here are the dos and don’ts for safe tick removal.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada