Ticks and Lyme for the health of it
Be Tick Free for a Healthy Summer
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by the bite of an infected deer tick. Untreated, the disease can cause several health problems. Patients treated with antibiotics in the early stage of the infection usually recover rapidly and completely.
New York typically reports the highest number of Lyme disease cases in the nation. While there are year-to-year variations, New York State has averaged more than 7,500 new cases annually over the last 10 years. People should take precautions during warmer months to protect themselves from being bitten by disease-carrying ticks.
How Can I Protect Against Ticks and Prevent Lyme Disease?
Deer ticks live in shady, moist areas at ground level. They will cling to tall grass, brush and shrubs, usually no more than 18-24 inches off the ground. They also live in lawns and gardens, especially at the edges of woods and around old stone walls.
Deer ticks cannot jump or fly, and do not drop onto passing people or animals. They get on humans and animals only by direct contact. Once a tick gets on the skin, it generally climbs upward until it reaches a protected area.
In tick-infested areas, your best protection is to avoid contact with soil, leaf litter and vegetation. However, if you garden, hike, camp, hunt, work, or otherwise spend time in the outdoors, you can still protect yourself:
- Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily.
- Wear enclosed shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants.
- Check clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks while outdoors.
- Consider using insect repellent. Always read and carefully follow the instructions on insect repellant product labels.
- Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails. Walk in the center of trails. Avoid dense woods and bushy areas.
- Avoid sitting directly on the ground or on stone walls.
- Keep long hair tied back, especially when gardening.
- Bathe or shower as soon as possible after going indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that may be on you.
- Do a final, full-body tick check at the end of the day (also check children and pets) and remove ticks promptly.
How Can I Safely Remove a Tick?
If you DO find a tick attached to your skin, do not panic. Not all ticks are infected, and your risk of Lyme disease is greatly reduced if the tick is removed within the first 36 hours.
To remove a tick:
- Use a pair of pointed tweezers to grasp the tick by the head or mouth parts right where they enter the skin. DO NOT grasp the tick by the body.
- Pull firmly and steadily outward. DO NOT jerk or twist the tick.
- Place the tick in a small container of rubbing alcohol to kill it.
- Clean the bite wound with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.
- Call your health care provider to report the tick.
If you have any further questions about Lyme disease or ticks, contact your healthcare provider or the Public Health Department at 337-1660 for more information. https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/lyme/
Persons with questions or requiring additional information may contact the Chenango County Health Department at (607) 337-1660.