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Ticks and Tickborne Disease Information

Four ticks of increasing size on a fingertip
Ticks 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?

  • Ticks are common in many areas outside of Alaska. Check these maps to see where ticks are found in other parts of the United States, Europe, and Canada. Protect yourself from ticks if you are planning to spend time outdoors in areas where ticks are common. Ask your veterinarian about using flea or tick protection on your pets.
  • If you have recently traveled out-of-state to an area where there are ticks and have spent time outside, please check yourself, your pets, and luggage before heading back to Alaska.
  • Inform your health care provider if symptoms occur following a tick bite or after exposure to tick habitat. You can read more about common symptoms of tickborne diseases here.

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