City Health Information
July 2012 New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Vol.3(3):17-24



Preventing and Managing Lyme and Other Tick-borne Diseases
  • Advise patients to use tick checks, DEET, and showers to avoid tick bites; if a tick is attached, it should be removed promptly and safely.

  • Ask patients with suggestive symptoms such as fever, headache, malaise, and/or rash about travel history, as most tick-borne infections are acquired outside of New York City.

  • Follow recommended testing protocols, including repeat testing if indicated, because symptoms may be nonspecific and immune response is often delayed.



The 3 types of hard tick that carry the diseases most commonly reported in New Yorkers are shown in Vectors of Tick-borne Diseases in New York City Residents.1,3

The American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), which transmits the bacterium that causes RMSF (Rickettsia rickettsii), is abundant throughout the 5 NYC boroughs. Bites are most often from adult ticks.3

The blacklegged tick or deer tick (Ixodes scapularis) transmits bacteria that can cause Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi) and anaplasmosis (Anaplasma phagocytophilum) and the intraerythrocytic parasite that causes babesiosis (Babesia microti). Most bites are from nymphs, which are typically the size of a poppy seed and are active between May and August.3

The blacklegged tick is prevalent on Long Island and in Westchester, upstate New York (particularly the lower Hudson Valley), New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. In both 2008 and 2009, there was a large increase in the number of blacklegged ticks collected in counties outside of NYC. In the Hudson Valley, infection rates in blacklegged ticks were 40% to 50% for B. burgdorferi, 1% to 3% for B. microti, and 7% to 15% for A. phagocytophilum.3

In recent years, very small numbers of blacklegged ticks have been found in Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx, Clay Pit Pond Park in Staten Island, Alley Pond and Highland Parks in Queens, Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, and High Rock and Wolfe's Pond Parks in Staten Island. Approximately half of the ticks collected in 2009 and 2010 tested positive for B. burgdorferi.3 The Health Department will continue to conduct surveillance to monitor the presence and range of ticks in NYC. For the most recent findings on ticks in NYC, visit the Health Department Web site at

The lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum), which transmits the bacteria that can cause ehrlichiosis (primarily Ehrlichia chaffeensis, but also E. ewingii), is not common in NYC.3 Bites are most often from adult ticks.3

The brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) is present throughout the United States. Recently, it has been associated with transmission of Rickettsia rickettsii in parts of the Southwestern US, but not elsewhere.4

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