Updated: May 22, 2023

Ticks are small arachnids that feed on the blood of animals, including humans. These tiny creatures are often found in wooded areas, tall grasses, and bushes. While many people believe that ticks are harmless, they can actually pose a serious threat to human health. In this article, we will explore the dangers of ticks and how to protect yourself from their harmful effects.

The Risks of Tick Bites

Tick bites can transmit a variety of diseases to humans, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Powassan virus. These diseases can cause serious health problems if left untreated. Lyme disease, for example, is caused by a bacteria that is transmitted by the black-legged tick. Symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic “bull’s-eye” rash. If left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to arthritis and nervous system disorders.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is another tick-borne illness that can be severe if not treated promptly. This disease is caused by a bacteria that is transmitted by the American dog tick, the Rocky Mountain wood tick, and the brown dog tick. Symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever include fever, headache, muscle pain, and a rash. Without treatment, Rocky Mountain spotted fever can cause damage to vital organs such as the heart and kidneys.

Powassan virus is a rare but potentially fatal illness that is transmitted by the black-legged tick and the groundhog tick. Symptoms of Powassan virus include fever, headache, vomiting, and seizures. In severe cases, Powassan virus can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord).

Preventing Tick Bites

The best way to avoid tick-borne illnesses is to prevent tick bites in the first place. Here are some tips for protecting yourself from ticks:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when walking in wooded areas or tall grasses.
  • Use a repellent that contains DEET or permethrin on your skin and clothing.
  • Check yourself and your pets for ticks after spending time outside.
  • Shower within 2 hours of coming indoors to wash off any unattached ticks.
  • Treat your clothing and gear with products that contain 0.5% permethrin.

Removing Ticks

If you find a tick attached to your skin, it is important to remove it as soon as possible. Here are the steps for safely removing 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-parts, leave them alone and let the skin heal.
  3. After removing the tick, clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.


Ticks may be small, but they can pose a serious threat to human health. By taking precautions to avoid tick bites and promptly removing any ticks that do attach themselves, you can greatly reduce your risk of contracting a tick-borne illness. If you have been bitten by a tick and develop symptoms such as fever, rash, or headache, seek medical attention right away. With proper care and prevention, you can enjoy time outdoors without putting your health at risk.