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Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School

Lyme Disease Prevention and Action

Empowering you to safely enjoy the outdoors. Helping you to take the right steps if you're bitten by a tick.

You can protect yourself against Lyme disease.

The bacteria that cause Lyme disease can spread to humans and pets through the bite of an infected black-legged tick. Mild symptoms can be treated with a short course of antibiotics. But Lyme disease can become serious, especially if not treated early.

That's why you need to know what to do to reduce your risk of Lyme disease if you're bitten by a tick — and the risk factors and symptoms that might point to a diagnosis.

But don't let concern about Lyme disease keep you inside. You can take steps before you go outside, once you’re outdoors, and after you get home to prevent tick bites on yourself, your children, and your pets so you can safely enjoy the outdoors.

Preventing Tick Bites

The key to preventing Lyme disease is avoiding tick bites. The best way to do this is through a combination of using repellents, dressing appropriately, tick-proofing your clothing and gear, and carrying a tick removal kit with you when you’re outdoors. Each of these steps adds an extra layer of protection.

Preventing Tick Bites on People

Which repellent should you use? How can you tick-proof your clothing? How do long sleeves, long pants, and light-colored clothing help to prevent tick bites? What should you include in a tick removal kit?

Preventing Tick Bites on Pets

Like humans, pets can also get Lyme disease from a tick bite. And even if a pet is vaccinated against Lyme disease or wears a tick collar, it can still bring ticks inside the house that pose a risk to you. Preventing tick bites on your pets is an important way to protect them, you, and your family.

"Protect yourself from tick bites. Check for tick bites. Know what to do if you find a tick."

Lyme Disease Patient Experience Survey Respondent

Male, 73, Croydon, PA

If you find a tickDo you know what to do if you find a tick on yourself or your child?

Don’t panic. A tick — or even a tick bite — doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to get Lyme disease or another tick-borne disease. However, you do need to act promptly to remove the tick.

We'll walk you through the seven steps you should follow to properly remove an attached tick.

Click here


All about ticks

What do ticks look like? Where do they live? What time of year are you most likely to be bitten by a tick? What happens when a tick encounters a human? What happens during a tick bite? Learn the answers to all of these questions.

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Which repellent is right for you?

There are many different types of repellents to choose from. They have different active ingredients, protect for varying amounts of time, and offer different levels of protection. Find information to help you decide which one is best for you.

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Other tick-borne diseases

Different types of ticks are found in various parts of the U.S. All of these ticks look a little different and can spread different diseases. Tell your doctor if you are bitten by any type of tick and ask if you should be tested for diseases caused by the pathogen the tick could have been carrying, and what symptoms you should watch for.

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Stages and Symptoms

Learning about Lyme disease stages can help you know what symptoms you might experience. You’ll also be able to watch for signs that could mean that your Lyme disease has progressed. Lyme disease symptoms are more likely to progress if you have not been appropriately treated.

Learn about Lyme disease stages and symptoms

Diagnosis and Testing

A Lyme disease diagnosis can be straightforward or tricky. Learn what symptoms and risk factors your doctor might ask you about, which tests you may need to take, what your test results mean, and what the next steps should be.

Learn about diagnosis and testing

Be Safe at HomeProtect Your Yard From Ticks

Your yard may be your sanctuary, but it may also be home to black-legged ticks, the tiny pests that can infect you with Lyme disease and other illnesses. Modifications to your yard can reduce your chances of coming into contact with ticks.

Learn How

Risk factors and symptoms

If you think you may have Lyme disease, but your doctor hasn’t considered it or has ruled it out before testing you for it, here’s how you can start a conversation: Give your doctor a list of Lyme disease symptoms and risk factors, and ask them if, given your own symptoms and risk factors, Lyme disease could be a possible cause and whether you should be tested.

Download a printable checklist of Lyme disease risk factors and symptoms.

Download (PDF 265.57 kB)

For teachers and coaches

Teachers and coaches can help decrease the risk of tick bites when watching children at recess or coaching them outdoors. Adults responsible for children during outside activities should know what to do if a child has a tick. Prompt attention can help prevent Lyme disease.

Download a printable document to share with your child's teachers and coaches.

Download (PDF 269.75 kB)