David Letterman Brings a Tick to 'Late Night With Seth Meyers'


David Letterman brought Lyme disease awareness to the desk of “Late Night With Seth Meyers” on Wednesday with an unconventional “gift.”

During his segment, Letterman asked the audience, “Anybody here ever had Lyme disease? I’m doing this to promote epidemiological health and awareness because Lyme disease, ticks, they’re everywhere.”

Meyers asked him if he’s had Lyme disease, to which Letterman replied, “Oh yeah. Probably got it now.”

“You look like a guy who would have it,” Meyers joked, as Letterman mimed itching and swatting his beard.

Letterman replied that he’s also had ehrlichiosis, another bacterial illness transmitted by ticks.

He then pulled a plastic bag out of his pocket with a live tick inside and said he pulled it off his lower back Monday morning and it’s been in the bag ever since.

“These are tenacious little bastards,” he said.

He dumped the tick onto Meyers’ desk and said it was on him at least overnight. He expressed amazement that the tick is still alive despite being sealed in a Ziploc bag.

“And by the way, don’t you think I get a little money from the Ziploc people?” he joked.

Meyers asked him if he was going to have it tested because you can send ticks to labs to test them for pathogens that cause Lyme disease and other illnesses.

“No I’m not going to have him tested, he’s yours,” Letterman replied. “You have him tested, you’re the man with the show.”

Watch the entire conversation below (starts at 3:30).

This isn’t the first time Letterman has brought up Lyme disease. In 1989, he did a skit about Lyme disease, complete with a person in a tick costume. In 2006, he said tick-borne illnesses are “one of the most overdiagnosed” illnesses, and in 2010, he said during a segment with Ben Stiller that Lyme is an “East Coast thing,” not a California problem.

Over the last few years, scientists have warned that the tick population, and thus the risk of tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease, is increasing. Lyme disease is notoriously difficult to diagnose as testing methods are often unreliable. Undiagnosed or untreated tick-borne illnesses can cause a range of painful, flu-like and neurological symptoms that can persist for years.

Although Meyers joked that Letterman “looks like someone who would have” Lyme disease, it’s important to remember that you can become infected even if you don’t have facial hair or spend an extensive amount of time outdoors. Lyme disease can be found throughout the U.S. and around the world, not just the East Coast. To learn how to create a “tick kit” and what to do if you see a tick on yourself, check out Mighty contributor Jena Whiston’s guide.


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