Shorts, sandals, and sunglasses\u00a0often go hand-in-hand with warm weather. But rising temperatures can also bring out several biting insects\u00a0\u2014 including ticks.\nTicks can transmit Lyme disease, a disorder with a wide range of symptoms that mimic several other conditions. Those with Lyme disease may exhibit fever, chills, muscle and joint aches, as well as swollen lymph nodes.\nIt’s important to be wary of these pests, and protect yourself, your family, and your pets by taking precautions. Alaina James, MD, PhD, UPMC Department of Dermatology, answers common questions about ticks and disease, and keeping your family safe this season.\nWhat Are\u00a0Ticks?\nLyme disease is primarily spread through the bite of a tick.\nTicks, which are related to spiders and have eight legs, can be a variety of sizes (as small as 2 millimeters) and are usually black, brown, or red in color (see image).\nTicks live in the woods, on leaves and bushes, and on blades of grass. Ticks stay alive by eating blood from their hosts, including humans. As they move from one host to the next, ticks can transmit infections, one of which is Lyme disease.\n\n\n \n\n \nWhat Is Lyme Disease?\nLyme disease is a bacterial infection that ticks can carry if they bite infected mice or deer. Infected ticks can transmit Lyme disease to you and your pets through their bite. Being outside or around a pet that may carry ticks, or walking in high grasses could put you at risk for tick bites and Lyme disease.\nLyme disease is actually more common than people think, which is why it’s important to know the signs and symptoms and ways to prevent contracting it.\nWhat are the symptoms of Lyme disease?\nIn many cases, a tick must be attached to you for at least 24 hours to contract an infection, and most people who are bitten do not get Lyme disease. If you are bitten, symptoms can begin days or weeks after infection, and they are similar to those associated with the flu. They can include:\n\nRash at the bite site (commonly an expanding red circle with a bull’s eye or target appearance)\nGeneral ill feeling\nChills\nFever\nHeadache\nMuscle or joint pain\nStiff neck\n\nHow can I prevent Lyme disease?\n\nAvoid high grass and bushy areas, and walk on designated trails\nWear lightweight, protective clothing when outdoors\nApply bug repellent with 20-30 percent DEET (active ingredient) to all exposed skin\nCheck all body surfaces for ticks, especially the groin and underarm areas\n\nIf you think you may have been bitten by a tick and are experiencing symptoms of Lyme disease, contact your doctor immediately. If Lyme disease is diagnosed early, it can typically be treated with antibiotics, and serious, long-term complications can be prevented.