Tick-borne Diseases

Georgia residents may submit photos and brief description online to get a tick identified. There is no charge for this service, but it is only available to Georgia residents.

Ticks can carry diseases and may transmit those diseases through a bite (while feeding). Most tick bites do not result in infection, but the best way to decrease your chance of infection is to prevent tick bites and remove any attached ticks properly as soon as possible.

Tick-borne illnesses are most often transmitted between early spring and late fall since ticks are most active during warm months. However, tick-borne diseases have been reported year-round in Georgia.

Tick-borne diseases reported in Georgia include:

Though cases are rarely reported in Georgia, there are other concerning emerging tickborne diseases that DPH are watching out for, including:

  • Babesiosis
  • Alpha-Gal Syndrome
  • Powassan virus
  • Heartland virus
  • Bourbon virus

If you develop symptoms such as fever, rash, fatigue, muscle aches, or other flu-like symptoms after a tick bite or spending time in tick-infested areas, it is important to seek medical attention promptly. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications associated with tickborne diseases.

Some frequently asked questions and data are provided below. Don't see what you need? Contact us to submit a question.

  • How do I remove a tick?

    The following was adapted from the CDC's Tick Removal page (https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/removing_a_tick.html)

    1. Use clean, fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
    2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth parts with tweezers. If you cannot remove the mouth easily with tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
    3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. If you are interested in Georgia's free tick identification, please submit a form through Georgia'sTick ID Program.
    4. Never crush a tick with your fingers. Dispose of a live tick by:
      • Putting it in alcohol,
      • Placing it in a sealed bag/container,
      • Wrapping it tightly in tape, or
      • Flushing it down the toilet.
    5. If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick, see your doctor:
      • Tell the doctor about your recent tick bite,
      • When the bite occurred, and
      • Where you most likely acquired the tick.
  • Should I test attached ticks for diseases?

    If you recently removed a tick from your body, getting it tested for diseases might be tempting. While this seems like an ideal solution, public health does not generally recommend testing ticks for pathogens for the following reasons:

    • Laboratories that conduct tick testing are not required to have the high standards of quality control used by clinical diagnostic laboratories. Results of tick testing should not be used for treatment decisions.
    • Positive results showing that the tick contains a disease-causing organism do not necessarily mean that you have been infected.
    • Negative results can lead to false assurance. You may have been unknowingly bitten by a different tick that was infected.
    • If you have been infected, you will probably develop symptoms before the tick test results are available. If you become ill, you should not wait for tick testing results before beginning appropriate treatment.

    Public health does recommend tick ID and telling your provider the species of tick if you develop symptoms. If you would like to have a tick identified by one of our entomologists, please submit it to Georgia'sTick ID Program. 

  • Alpha Gal Syndrome (Red Meat Allergy) FAQs

    What is Alpha-Gal Syndrome?

    Alpha-gal syndrome (AGS) (also called alpha-gal allergy, red meat allergy, or tick bite meat allergy) is an allergic reaction to alpha-gal. Alpha-gal (galactose-α-1,3-galactose) is a sugar molecule found in meat and products made from mammals.

    Who gets AGS?

    Since AGS is spread through the bite of a (lone star) tick, anyone who has been bitten may be at risk for developing symptoms.

    How is AGS spread?

    More research is needed to understand which ticks can spread AGS, but evidence suggests lone star ticks may be the culprit in the US.

    What are the symptoms of AGS?

    AGS reactions can be different from person to person. Persons suffering from AGS may experience the following symptoms after eating meat or dairy products:

    • Hives or itchy rash
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Heartburn or indigestion
    • Diarrhea
    • Cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing
    • Drop in blood pressure
    • Swelling of the lips, throat, tongue, or eyelids
    • Dizziness or faintness
    • Severe stomach pain

    AGS can be severe and even life-threatening. Seek immediate emergency care if you are having a severe allergic reaction.

    How soon do symptoms occur?

    Symptoms commonly appear 2-6 hours after exposure.

    What is the treatment for AGS?

    There is no medical treatment for Alpha-Gal except supportive care. Like any allergy, avoiding the triggering food is the best way to prevent symptoms.

    What can be done to prevent the spread of AGS?

    Limiting exposure to ticks is the best way to prevent tick‐borne disease. When spending time outdoors in places where contact with ticks may occur, take the following precautions:

    • Wear light‐colored clothing so that crawling ticks can be easily seen.
    • Wear pants and long sleeves to reduce skin exposure to ticks.
    • Tuck pants into socks and shirts into pants to prevent ticks from crawling up pants legs.
    • Apply insect repellent containing DEET to exposed skin and permethrin to clothing.
    • After spending time outdoors, thoroughly inspect your body for crawling or attached ticks. Pay particular attention to the head and scalp, as ticks may be hidden in the hair.
    • Populations of ticks may be effectively controlled with pesticides along trails and by keeping grass mowed.

    How should a tick be removed?

    To remove an attached tick, grasp with fine‐tipped tweezers as close to the skin surface as possible, and pull upward and out with firm, steady pressure. If tweezers are unavailable, use fingers shielded with tissue paper or rubber gloves. Do not handle the tick with bare hands. Do not use petroleum jelly, fire, or other home remedies; these methods may increase the risk of infection. Be careful not to squeeze, crush, or puncture the tick’s body, which may contain infectious fluids. After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite area and wash your hands. Consult with a physician if there is concern about incomplete tick removal.

    Where can I get additional information about AGS?

    If you believe you have Alpha Gal Syndrome, please consult your allergist or primary physician. Additional information can be found on the CDC’s AGS website (https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/alpha-gal/index.html). 

  • Local and National Surveillance Data

    Local (Georgia) Data

    Cumulative Five-Year Total of Select Tickborne Disease Cases in Georgia Residents Reported to the State Electronic National Disease Surveillance System 2018-2022



    Five Year Total

    Lyme Disease




    Ehrlichiosis 32

    Spotted Fever Rickettsiosis


    *Includes Ehrlichiosis/Anaplasmosis, Undetermined


    National Data

    Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever - National Epidemiology and Statistics (CDC)  [external link]

    National Lyme Disease Surveillance Data (CDC) [external link]

    Ehrlichiosis - Epidemiology and Statistics (CDC) [external link]


    Case Surveillance

    What is Case Surveillance? (CSTE) [external link]


Page updated January 18, 2024