Lyme disease is transmitted to humans when an infected tick bites the skin. The CDC states that the risk of Lyme transmission from a tick increases the longer it is attached. Since a tick bite does not hurt and it is very difficult to feel a tick crawling on the skin or scalp, ticks can attach and remain undetected.
Ticks that are attached for more than 72 hours have a completed feed cycle resulting in the highest chance of Lyme transmission. In up to 80 percent of all tick bites that result in Lyme, a rash will begin about 7 days after the bite and continue to grow in size. It may also feel warmer than the rest of the surrounding skin. The rash may even look like a bull’s eye, a sure-fire sign of an infected tick bite. Lyme disease itself is a bacterial infection known as bacterium Borrelia Burgdorferi.
Very early symptoms of tick borne Lyme disease include a rash at the bite site, a fever, swollen lymph nodes, intense headaches and extreme fatigue. It can be difficult to diagnose Lyme in some individuals as the symptoms can mirror many other illnesses and you may never even know you were bit by a tick to begin with.
It is important to get treatment early because once the infection spreads it can affect your joints, nervous system and even your heart. Deer ticks that are found in the northeastern part of the US have the highest chance of carrying this vector-borne disease.
This graphic from the CEUfast Blog shows where in the U.S. you are most likely to get Lyme Disease. As you will see, northwestern states such as Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maine, Delaware, and New York have some of the highest confirmed reports in the US per 100,000 people.