WEDNESDAY, Jan. 31, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Contrary to what many people believe, the lone star tick does not spread Lyme disease, researchers report.
But it can transmit other diseases.
The researchers came to that conclusion after reviewing more than 60 studies published over three decades.
"The media coverage of Lyme disease might make many Americans think that a tick bite means only one thing: Lyme disease," said review co-author Robyn Nadolny. She is a biologist and program coordinator with the U.S. Army Public Health Center Tick-Borne Disease Laboratory.
Lyme disease bacteria are transmitted to people primarily by the blacklegged tick (also called the deer tick), which is common in the eastern United States. The lone star tick has become guilty by association as it has spread northward in recent decades.
But while it is not a factor in Lyme disease, the lone star tick does transmit bacteria that cause several types of illness. Those illnesses include ehrlichiosis; red meat allergy; and Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness (STARI), which produces rashes similar to those seen with Lyme disease.
The findings were published online Jan. 31 in the Journal of Medical Entomology.
Knowing the lone star ticks don't cause Lyme but are responsible for other illnesses is important in terms of public health.
"We aim to raise awareness of ehrlichiosis and the other problems caused by lone star ticks so that the real threat from these ticks does not go unrecognized," Nadolny said in a journal news release.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on ticks.