Horses are a popular host for growing tick populations, increasing farriers’ exposure to tick-borne diseases (See Strategies for Preventing Tick-Borne Diseases). This is a snapshot of medically important tick-borne diseases as listed on the CDC website. For detailed information about tick-borne diseases, visit the Center for Disease Control ( 

Anaplasmosis can develop in humans and horses and usually occurs five to 14 days post-bite. Early warning signs include fever, severe headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The antibiotic Doxycycline is frequently used with success to treat the disease.

Babesiosis infections are caused by microscopic parasites that infect red blood cells, with tick bites being one mode of transmission. Indicators can range from asymptomatic to life-threatening. However, it is treatable with prompt medical care.

Colorado tick fever is not currently treatable but tends to cause mild symptoms; however, fatigue may persist for several weeks.

Ehrlichiosis produces similar symptoms to anaplasmosis and is also treated with Doxycycline.

Hard relapsing tick disease is relatively new to the U.S. and is treated with antibiotics, including doxycycline, amoxicillin, and ceftriaxone. Fever, chills, and headaches are common indicators.

Heartland virus disease is similar to anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis and has been identified in Midwestern and Southern states. Because it is a virus, it does not respond to antibiotics. Most cases are mild and resolve with rest and hydration.

Lyme disease is the most widespread tick disease characterized by fever, headache, fatigue, and a bull’s-eye-shaped rash. Symptoms can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system. Typically, Lyme disease is successfully treated with antibiotics.

Powassan virus disease is the rarest tick-borne disease. Early signs include fever, headache, vomiting, and weakness. Severe infections can cause encephalitis or meningitis. No vaccines or treatments exist. Rest, hydration, and painkillers are commonly used. In severe cases, hospitalization is necessary.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a quickly progressing life-threatening tick-borne disease if not treated early with antibiotics. Many symptoms can be like various other diseases making RMSF challenging to diagnose. A widespread rash is common. With treatment, individuals do not experience chronic infections but may experience permanent damage such as hearing loss, paralysis, mental disability, and blood vessel damage, which could require amputation.

Southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI) produces a rash like Lyme disease. More research is needed to determine whether it responds to antibiotics, but doctors frequently prescribe them since it is similar to Lyme disease.

Spotted fever known as rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis ranges from mild to life-threatening. The main symptom is easy to spot — a dark scab at the bite site. Can also include fever, headache, and rash. Doxycycline is used to treat all forms of spotted fever.

Tularemia can be caused in several ways, which includes tick and deer fly bites. Symptoms can take on several forms, but all include a fever of up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. It can be life-threatening but responds well to antibiotics.