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Lyme disease not the only reason to avoid ticks

Ever since Dean Traut contracted Lyme disease, he's been extra cautious when it comes to protecting himself and his grandchildren from ticks.

"It's probably the worst illness or pain I've been through," he told CBS News.

Ticks are most active in the months of April through October and peak in the summer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne illness, it's not the only one. A report published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that a newly recognized illness called Borrelia miyamotoi disease (BMD) is becoming more common in the northeastern part of the United States. It was first seen in this country in 2013.

Symptoms include "fever, severe headache, lots of body aches," said Dr. Bobbi Pritt, director of the Clinical Parasitology Laboratory at Mayo Clinic. "People can die from this."

Diagnosis can be difficult, as tick-borne illnesses all have similar symptoms.

Experts say ticks are thriving in the United States, and they're spreading into new areas. Deer ticks, found in the Northeast, have made their way up to Maine and the Upper Midwest. Lone Star Ticks, found in the South, are now moving northward.

Certain safety precautions can be taken to reduce your risk of tick bites. When you go outside, avoid grassy or wooded areas, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, and use insect repellent.

"Ticks are going to be at the edges of the path where there may be tall grasses," Pritt said. "By staying in the middle of the path, that's one way to just stay away from where ticks would be."

Traut also emphasized the importance of checking yourself and family members for ticks. His wife Judy spotted the tick on him so he was able to get treatment quickly.

"The deer tick is almost like a little freckle on your skin so you just have to really watch and look for it," she said.

Many tick-transmitted diseases can be treated with antibiotics, especially if started early.

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    Ashley Welch covers health and wellness for CBSNews.com