About 300,000 people will be diagnosed with Lyme disease this year. Thousands of others will be told they have other tick-borne illnesses.

But for a tick bite to make you sick, the tick must be attached to you and feeding for a certain amount of time. For some diseases, this can take a day or more. For others, it takes just minutes.

Lyme disease, rocky mountain spotted fever and tick-borne relapsing fever are all devastating diseases that can be caused by one teeny, tiny tick.

There is a grace period you have between the time a tick attaches itself and when disease sets in.

"As the infection persists longer and longer over time, those bacteria can move from a tick bite site to different places in the body," according to Mollie Jewett with the University of Central Florida College of Medicine.

The bacterium that causes Lyme disease takes 48 hours of tick feeding time to pass the pathogen from tick to person. Rocky mountain spotted fever takes two hours. Tick-borne relapsing fever takes less than half an hour.

To protect yourself against these diseases, use environmental protection agency insect repellent, treat clothing with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin. When in wooded areas and grass, wear long pants, long sleeves, and closed-toe shoes. Check regularly for ticks, and shower soon after being outdoors because all it takes is one bite from one of these to cause an illness that can last a lifetime.

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