Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI)

Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness & Ticks in New England

Often mistaken for a symptom of Lyme Disease, Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness, or STARI, develops around the site of a Lone Star tick bite. Found throughout the eastern, southeastern, and south-central United States, the Lone Star tick has become more widely distributed over the past three decades and now is commonly found as far north as the southern parts of most New England states. Both humans and household pets, such as cats and dogs, serve as hosts for the parasite. The specific cause of the illness remains unknown.

Symptoms of STARI

STARI produces a rash that looks like an expanding bull’s-eye positioned around the site of a Lone Star tick bite. Irritated, red, and approximately three inches in diameter, the rash typically develops about a week after the initial encounter with the infected tick.

Accompanying symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Muscle Pain.

The saliva of Lone Star ticks is irritating on its own, so redness and discomfort around the site of a bite does not necessarily indicate a case of STARI. In lieu of diagnostic blood tests, doctors and healthcare providers must use the noticeable symptoms and geographic location of the patient and determine whether the victim was exposed to a Lone Star tick in order to make an accurate diagnosis.

Treating STARI

Despite the lack of definitive knowledge about the disease, Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness is easy to treat. The rash, as well as additional symptoms, clears up after a round of oral antibiotics.

While STARI seems less problematic than other tick-borne illnesses, avoiding contact with the Lone Star tick should still be a priority for outdoor enthusiasts. Any time spent in grassy and wooded areas should be restricted to clear trails. Apply chemical repellents on skin and clothing before venturing outdoors, and check equipment, clothes, exposed skin, and pets for ticks before returning inside. When ticks become attached to clothing, drying the garments at high temperatures will eradicate the clinging parasites.

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