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Ticks and Tickborne Disease Information               

bed bug image.jpgTicks have four life stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adult.  The photo above shows a black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis) larva, nymph, adult male, and adult female (left to right).  Image courtesy of the California Department of Public Health​​.

Ticks are tiny bugs (arachnids) that are related to spiders, scorpions, and mites. Ticks are common in many parts of the world, including Alaska.  Alaska is home to six native tick species, or ticks that have historically been found in the state. Several non-native (or invasive) and medically-important tick species have been found in Alaska on animals or on people who have traveled from out of state.

Of the many different tick species found throughout the world, only a select few bite and transmit disease to people. Some can transmit pathogens (bacteria or viruses) that cause disease. Of the most common tickborne diseases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, or tularemia cases have involved Alaskans.

  • There have been no reports of people contracting Rocky Mountain spotted fever or Lyme disease in Alaska.  Persons who are diagnosed with these diseases have contracted them from exposures while traveling out of state.
  • Tularemia occurs sporadically in Alaska, and humans can become infected from a tick bite and through direct contact with an infected animal. 
Common symptoms associated with tickborne diseases include:  body/muscle aches, fever, headaches, fatigue, joint pain, rash, stiff neck, or facial paralysis.

Tickborne diseases are diagnosed based on clinical symptoms in conjunction with laboratory diagnostic test results.  Most cases can be successfully treated with specific types of antibiotics, especially if treatment is started early. 

Traveling Outside of Alaska?

Resources for Healthcare Providers

Lyme disease and tularemia are conditions reportable to public health in Alaska​.  Reports must be made if disease is suspected or diagnosed.  

Resources for the General Public