Tick Attachment and Tickborne Diseases

What is the transmission time for Lyme disease?

  • Transmission of Lyme disease usually starts between 24-72 hours of tick attachment.[1],[2]
  • In general, the longer the tick is attached the more likely it is to pass on an infection if it is carrying one.[1]

What are the transmission times for other tickborne diseases?

  • Powassan virus transmission may take as little as 15 minutes of attachment.[3] This is documented in mice and may be different for humans.
  • Anaplasmosis transmission may take less than 24 hours of attachment.[2] This is documented in mice and may be different for humans.
  • Babesiosis transmission may take less than 36 hours and increases with attachment time.[4] This is documented in hamsters and may be different in humans.
  • Borrelia miyamotoi transmission may happen within the first 24 hours of attachment.[5] The likelihood of transmission increases with attachment time.[5] Transmission time for Borrelia miyamotoi is documented in mice and may be different for humans.
  • One tick can carry several diseases. The transmission times of multiple infectious agents carried by one tick is not yet known.

Will I be able to estimate the attachment time if I find an attached tick?

  • People are not generally good at estimating attachment times.
  • Transmission of infection is possible if you find an engorged tick.
Close up picture of a tick
A deer tick (Ixodes scapularis)

What diseases can the ticks found in Maine carry?

  • The deer tick (Ixodes scapularis), also known as the black-legged tick, is the primary vector of Lyme disease,[6],[7] anaplasmosis,[8] babesiosis,[4] and Borrelia miyamotoi[9] (a relapsing fever illness).[6] Deer ticks are also a vector for Powassan virus,[10],[7] a potentially deadly form of encephalitis.
  • American dog ticks (Dermacentor variabilis) can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever[11] and tularemia[12].[7] Ticks in Maine are not known to carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever or tularemia.
  • The woodchuck tick (Ixodes cookei) can transmit Powassan virus.[13],[7]
  • The lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) can transmit Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Ehrlichia ewingii (which cause human ehrlichiosis), tularemia, and STARI.[14] The lone star ticks are moving north and are not fully established in Maine.

Can one tick carry several diseases?

  • Yes, a tick can carry and transmit multiple diseases at one time.[15]

What are the signs and symptoms for tickborne diseases found in Maine?

  • The signs and symptoms for a tickborne disease typically include flu-like symptoms like fever, headache, chills, and body pains.[7] Flu-like symptoms especially in the summer months are a good indicator of a tickborne disease.
  • Signs and symptoms for a specific tickborne disease can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/diseases/.

Lyme Disease

Which ticks can carry Lyme disease in Maine?

Sign listing lyme diseas preventive measures

Can I get Lyme disease by eating deer meat?

Can Lyme disease be passed sexually?

How common is Erythema migrans (the red expanding rash or the classic "bull's-eye rash) in people with Lyme disease?

Classic Lyme disease rash
"Classic" Lyme disease rash

What is early localized Lyme disease?

What is disseminated Lyme disease?

What is Chronic Lyme or Post Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS)?

Can you get Lyme disease multiple times?

What should I do if I think I have a tickborne disease?


  1. Piesman, J., & Dolan, M.C. (2002). Protection against Lyme disease spirochete transmission provided by prompt removal of nymphal Ixodes scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae). Journal of Medical Entomology, 29(3), 509-512.
  2. des Vignes, F., Piesman, J., Heffernan, R., Schulze, T.L., Stafford III, K.C., & Fish, D. (2001). Effect of tick removal on transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi and Ehrlichia phagocytophila by Ixodes scapularis nymphs. The Journal of Disease Surveillances, 183, 773-778.
  3. Ebel, G.D., and Kramer, L.D. (2004). Short report: duration of tick attachment required for transmission of Powassan virus by deer ticks. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 71(3), 268-271.
  4. Piesman, J. & Spielman, A. (1980). Human Babesiosis on Nantucket island: Prevalence of Babesia microti in ticks. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 29(5), 742-746.
  5. Breuner, N.E., Dolan, M.C., Replogle, A.J., Sexton, C., Hojgaard, A., Boegler, K.A.,...Eisen, L. (2017). Transmission of Borrelia miyamotoi sensu lato relapsing fever group spirochetes in relation to duration of attachment by Ixodes scapularis nymphs. Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases, 8(5), 677-681. doi: 10.1016/j.ttbdis.2017.03.008
  6. Brownstein, J.S., Holford, T.R., & Fish, D. (2005). Effect of climate change on Lyme disease risk in North America. Ecohealth, 2(1), 38-46. doi: 10.1007/s10393-004-0139-x
  7. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tickborne diseases of the United States. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/diseases/
  8. Cabezas-Cruz, A., Alberdi, P., Valdés, J.J., Villar, M., & de la Fuente, J. (2017). Anaplasma phagocytophilum infection subverts carbohydrate metabolic pathways in the tick vector, Ixodes scapularis. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, 7(23), 1-17. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2017.00375
  9. Graham, C.B., Pilgard, M.A., Maes, S.E., Hojgaard, A., & Eisen, R.J. (2016). Paired real-time PCR assays for detection of Borrelia miyamotoi in North American Ixodes scapularis and Ixodes pacificus (Acari: Ixodidae). Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases, 7(6), 1230-1235. doi: 10.1016/j.ttbdis.2016.07.009
  10. Anderson, J.F., & Armstrong, P.M. (2012). Prevalence and genetic characterization of Powassan virus strains infecting Ixodes scapularis in Connecticut. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 87(4), 754-759.
  11. Carmichael, J.R., & Fuerst, P.A. (2010). Molecular detection of Rickettsia bellii, Rickettsia montanensis, and Rickettsia rickettsii in a Dermacentor variabilis tick from nature. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, 10(2), 111-115.
  12. Reese, S.M., Petersen, J.M., Sheldon, S.W., Dolan, M.C., Dietrich, G., Piesman, J., & Eisen, R.J. (2011). Transmission efficiency of Francisella tularensis by adult american dog ticks (Acari: Ixodidae). Journal of Medical Entomology, 48(4), 884-890.
  13. Main, A.J., Carey, A.B., & Downs, W.G. (1979). Powassan virus in Ixodes cookie and mustelidae in New England. Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 15(4), 585-591.
  14. Goddard, J., & Varela-Stokes, A.S. (2009). Role of the lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum (L.), in human and animal diseases. Veterinary Parasitology, 160, 1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2008.10.089
  15. Swanson, S.J., Neitzel, D., Reed, K.D., & Belongia, E.A. (2006). Coinfections acquired from Ixodes ticks. Clinical Microbiology Reviews, 19(4), 708-727. doi: 10.1128/CMR.00011-06
  16. Magnarelli, L.A., Anderson, J.F., Apperson, C.S., Fish, D., Johnson, R.C., & Chappell, W.A. (1986). Spirochetes in ticks and antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi in white-tailed deer from Connecticut, New York state, and North Carolina. Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 22(2), 178-188.
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