Learning more about lyme disease
Identify symptoms, read frequently asked questions and read stories about lyme disease


How a Tick Infects a Person

Once a tick feeds on a Lyme-infected host, it carries the bacteria in its gut. When the tick begins feeding on a host, some of the bacteria transfer from the midgut to the tick’s salivary glands where they are injected into the host’s bloodstream. The longer a tick feeds without notice, the greater the risk of the person being infected Lyme disease. The tick may feed slowly for several days.

Infected nymphs and infected adult ticks have equal capability of transmitting Lyme to people. Nymphal ticks are incredibly small (size of a poppy seed). It is quite likely to not be noticed until the tiny tick has expanded to a larger size. The longer it is attached, the more opportunity to have transmitted their bacteria into you.

When ticks feed, they administer a local anaesthetic from their salivary glands. This makes their host much less likely to feel the bite and the tick can feed unobstructed. Ticks also secret a cement-like substance which keeps them firmly attached during their meal. Doing tick checks after time spent outdoors is important to finding these sneaky ticks.


Other types of bites that might cause illness

There is potential to contract Lyme disease from other types of blood-sucking insects but this is exceptionally uncommon and accounts for less than 1% of Lyme-infected cases.

Some researchers believe that Lyme may be transmitted in other ways (via any route by which blood or tissue from an infected host may enter the body). However, these studies have yet to been confirmed.

Other means of Lyme/Borreliosis transmission:

  • Mother-to-baby during pregnancy
  • Sexual transmission (fluid exchange)
  • Contaminated blood transfusions

(Source: CanLyme; www.canlyme.org)


Lyme disease is preventable and treatable. If you think you have been bitten by a tick, seek medical attention immediately.

More in this category: « Ticks Making a Difference »