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Tick Bites: Flu-Like Symptoms

British Columbia Specific Information

Ticks are tiny bugs which feed on blood. For information on ticks, removing ticks, and how to avoid being bitten, see HealthLinkBC File #01 Tick Bites and Disease. You may also be interested in the HealthLinkBC File #96 Insect Repellent and DEET.

While most tick bites do not result in diseases, some can. Some of the diseases passed on by ticks include relapsing fever, tularemia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), Q Fever and anaplasmosis. The most well-known is Lyme disease. For more information on Lyme Disease, visit BC Centre for Disease Control - Lyme Disease (Borrelia burgdorferi infection).

Topic Overview

Many of the diseases ticks pass to humans can cause flu-like symptoms, including:

  • Fever.
  • Headache.
  • Muscle aches (myalgia).
  • A general feeling of illness (malaise).
  • Nausea and vomiting.

Diseases ticks may pass to humans include:

  • Lyme disease. Symptoms usually start 1 to 4 weeks after the tick bite, with up to 90% of people developing an expanding, circular red skin rash.
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Symptoms usually start about 2 to 14 days after the tick bite.
  • Tularemia. Symptoms usually start within 21 days (but average 1 to 10 days) after the tick bite or other exposure.
  • Ehrlichiosis. Symptoms usually start from 1 to 21 days (average of 7 days) after the tick bite.
  • Relapsing fever. Symptoms usually start 3 to 11 days (average of 6 days) after the tick bite.
  • Colorado tick fever. Symptoms usually start within 14 days (average of 3 to 6 days) of the tick bite.
  • Babesiosis. Symptoms usually start 1 to 6 weeks after the tick bite.

In some parts of the world, tick bites may cause other tick-borne diseases, such as South African tick-bite fever.

A doctor can evaluate the cause of your flu-like symptoms and recommend treatment.

Credits

Current as of:
February 26, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine