Warm weather means more tick bites
FINGER LAKES--The warmer weather is welcomed by many but unwanted tick bites and the concern of Lyme disease has become a growing seasonal problem.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention warns that deer ticks will cause 300,000 to 400,000 cases of Lyme disease nationwide this year.
Health officials in Yates County reported Lyme disease cases more than doubled in 2017. Schuyler County reports the same.
People living in or visiting New England, the mid-Atlantic states, and the upper Midwest are at the greatest risk.
Health officials offer the following information to protect yourself.
Know where to expect ticks. Blacklegged ticks (the ticks that cause Lyme disease) live in moist and humid environments, particularly in and near wooded or grassy areas. You may get a tick on you during outdoor activities around your home or when walking through leaves and bushes. To avoid ticks, walk in the center of trails and avoid walking through tall bushes or other vegetation.
Repel ticks on skin and clothing. Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone. Always follow product instructions. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes and mouth. Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and may be protective longer.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an online tool to help select the repellent that is best for your family.
For detailed information about preventing ticks on pets and in your yard, see Lyme Disease Prevention and Control at www.cdc.gov/lyme/prev
Perform Daily Tick Checks
Check your body for ticks after being outdoors, even in your own yard. Search your entire body for ticks when you return from an area that may have ticks. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body and remove any tick you find. Take special care to check these parts of your body and your child's body for ticks:
• Under the arms
• In and around the ears
• Inside the belly button
• Back of the knees
• In and around all head and body hair
• Between the legs
• Around the waist
Check your clothing and pets for ticks because they may carry ticks into the house. Check clothes and pets carefully and remove any ticks that are found. Place clothes into a dryer on high heat to kill ticks.
Remove Attached Ticks Quickly and Correctly
Remove an attached tick with fine-tipped tweezers as soon as you notice it. If a tick is attached to your skin for less than 24 hours, your chance of getting Lyme disease is extremely small; however, other diseases may be transmitted more quickly.
Jason Feinberg, M.D., Vice President Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer, for Finger Lakes Health, offers the following medical information. "Transmission of Lyme disease most often occurs when the tick has been present for at least 36 hours. Early Lyme disease diagnosis can be made by history of a tick bite and the presence of a characteristic rash 'erythema migrans,' which when present is diagnostic and requires treatment to prevent further sequelae. Further testing such as serologic testing is not recommended for early Lyme disease as the immune response is likely to be delayed resulting in a negative test that is not clinically helpful. Early disseminated disease or late Lyme Disease presents with variable symptoms including but not limited to meningitis, facial palsy, and neuro-radiculopathy, and requires further serologic testing."
See a healthcare provider if you have signs or symptoms.
Be Alert for Fever or Rash
Even if you don't remember being bitten by a tick, an unexpected summer fever or odd rash may be the first signs of Lyme disease, particularly if you've been in tick habitat. See your healthcare provider if you have symptoms.
Prevent Ticks on Animals
Prevent family pets from bringing ticks into the home by limiting their access to tick-infested areas and by using veterinarian-prescribed tick prevention products on your dog.
Create Tick-safe Zones in Your Yard
Modify your landscaping to create "Tick-Safe Zones." It's pretty simple. Keep patios, play areas and playground equipment away from shrubs, bushes and other vegetation. Regularly remove leaves, clear tall grasses and brush around your home and place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to keep ticks away from recreational areas (and away from you).
Use a chemical control agent. Use acaricides (tick pesticides) to reduce the number of ticks in treated areas of your yard. However, you should not rely on spraying to reduce your risk of infection.
Discourage deer. Deer are the main food source of adult ticks. Keep deer away from your home by removing plants that attract deer and by constructing barriers (like a fence) to discourage deer from entering your yard and bringing ticks with them.