Kibbles & Bits: Diseases Transmitted from Ticks- Part 1

Susan Bulanda


There are more diseases that people and dogs can get from ticks than many people realize. This article will give you an overview of the diseases for both people and dogs. 

Transmitted to humans and dogs from the blacklegged tick in the northeastern and upper midwestern U.S. and the western blacklegged tick along the Pacific coast.

Early signs and symptoms from one to five days are often mild. Fever, chills, Severe headache, Muscle aches, Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite

After Five Days look for these signs if treatment is delayed or the person has other medical conditions. If the person is older or has a weakened immune system are a higher risk.

Signs and symptoms of severe (late stage) illness can include: Respiratory failure, Bleeding problems, Organ failure, and Death

Some dogs may never show signs of illness or require treatment. They may develop a fever but will respond well to antibiotics. 

Caused by microscopic parasites that infect red blood cells. Most human cases of babesiosis in the U.S. are caused by Babesia microtiBabesia microti is transmitted by the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis) and is found primarily in the northeast and upper midwest.

Borrelia mayonii is a new species and is the only species besides B. burgdorferi known to cause Lyme disease in North America.

Based on limited information, illness caused by B. mayonii appears similar to that caused by B. burgdorferi, but with a few differences. Like B. burgdorferiB. mayonii causes fever, headache, rash, and neck pain in the days after infection and can cause arthritis after a few weeks of illness. Unlike B. burgdorferi, B. mayonii can also cause nausea and vomiting; large, widespread rashes; and a higher concentration of bacteria in the blood.

Dogs show a wide range of clinical signs including: Sudden collapse with systemic shock, hemolytic crisis, a subtle, slow progressing infection with no apparent clinical signs, abnormal dark urine, fever, weakness, pale mucous membranes, depression, swollen lymph nodes, and an enlarged spleen. 

Borrelia Miyamotoi
Borrelia miyamotoi is transmitted by the blacklegged tick and is found in the same areas as Lyme disease. The bacteria are closely related to tickborne relapsing fever (TBRF) and distantly related to Lyme Disease. This disease came from Japan. Two types of ticks carry this disease, deer ticks and the Western blacklegged tick. Both of these ticks carry several diseases. 

The most common symptoms are fever, chills, headaches, body and joint pain and fatigue. Most people do not get a rash from this disease. 

No reports found.

Bourbon virus
A rarer form of a tick-borne disease found in the Midwest and southern United States. 

This disease comes from the Lone Star tick as well as the Asian long horned tick, which feeds almost exclusively on mammals including dogs, cats, rabbits, squirrel, horse, raccoon, Virginia opossum and white-tailed deer. 

Symptoms: Fever, fatigue, rash, nausea, vomiting, headache, body aches, diarrhea, disorientation, and severe joint pain.

No reports found.

Colorado Tick Fever
This disease is transmitted by the Rocky Mountain wood tick which is found in the Rocky Mountain states at elevations of 4,000 to 10,500 feet. There are no medicines to treat this disease or vaccines to prevent it. Various wildlife carries the disease.  

Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, body aches, and fatigue. It is not uncommon for a person to feel ill for a few days, then feel better and then have a second bout of the illness. 

The symptoms in dogs are similar to humans and include, fever, loss of appetite, stiff joints, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea and in extreme cases, seizures. 

This is transmitted by the lone star tick and the brown dog tick found mostly in the southcentral and eastern United States. 

Early symptoms include a rash (most likely to show up in children), which shows up five days after the fever. Adults get a fever, chills, severe headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, confusion. 

If this disease is not treated right away, it can cause severe illness to include, damage to the brain or nervous system, (meningoencephalitis) respiratory failure, uncontrolled bleeding, organ failure and death. People who are very young or old or have a weakened immune system are especially at risk. 

There are three stages of the disease in dogs.

Early or acute stage symptoms: Fever, swollen lymph nodes, respiratory issues, weight loss, bleeding disorders such as spontaneous bleeding, neurological disturbances such as being unsteady or develop meningitis. This stage can last 2 – 4 weeks.

Sub-clinical stage: This stage may be the worst because there are no clinical signs because the disease is not causing any outward signs. The only sign might be excessive bleeding from the puncture site where blood is drawn. 

The last stage is the clinical or chronic stage: Signs are anemia, bleeding episodes, lameness, eye problems including bleeding and blindness, neurological issues and swollen limbs and if the bone marrow fails, death. 

Heartland Virus
This is found in the Midwestern and southern United States. While it is not certain, it is believed that the Lone Star ticks transmit the disease. 

Symptoms include: Fever, fatigue, decreased appetite, headache, nausea, diarrhea, muscle pain and joint pain. 

It is not known if dogs can get this disease. 

Recognized as a dog trainer since 1963, Susan Bulanda has worked with dogs in a variety of fields. She is recognized worldwide as an expert in Canine Search & Rescue (SAR) and as a canine and feline behavior consultant. Certified with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, she served both as its Vice President and Dog Chairperson. As an Adjunct Professor at Kutztown University and then at Carroll Community College, Susan developed two programs: “Canine Training and Management Program -- Level I & II” -- for students who want to become dog trainers and canine behavior consultants. In the corporate world, she was a Systems Analyst specializing in critical methodologies. Her books have won numerous national awards; she has lectured worldwide, and written hundreds of articles. Her books include: K9 Obedience Training: Teaching Pet and Working Dogs to be Reliable and Free-Thinking READY! Training the Search and Rescue Dog Ready to Serve, Ready to Save: Strategies of Real-Life Search and Rescue Missions Scenting on the Wind: Scent work for Hunting Dogs Boston Terriers Faithful Friends: Holocaust Survivors Stories of the Pets Who Gave Them Comfort, Suffered Alongside Them and Waited for Their Return God’s Creatures: A Biblical View of Animals Real Estate Today Seller Beware Save Yourself Thousands of Dollars Soldiers in Fur and Feathers: Animals that Served in WWI Allied Forces K9 Search and Rescue Troubleshooting: Practical Solutions to Common SAR Dog Training Problems War Dogs of World War II


  1. Avatar Kathy on June 21, 2023 at 7:02 am

    Rocky mountain spotted fever is a insidious disease that is on the rise. Infections are not limited to moutainous western states. Found in the South as well.

  2. Avatar Patty Wood on June 21, 2023 at 7:59 am

    Thank you for bringing this to the attention of those who hike through the woods and fields.
    I am no long able to eat red meat (anything with a hoof) including beef, pork, lamb, venison, etc because of a tick bite. It’s called Alpha-gal.
    I have had this condition for about 20 years.

Leave a Comment