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Tioga Public Health: No time for ticks in warm weather; could cause Lyme’s disease

(Owego, NY) – With the arrival of warm weather, ticks are out there and can make their way to infect people or animals with Lyme disease. In 2019, New York State had 2,847 confirmed cases of Lyme disease, of which 30 were residents in Tioga County. The case count is likely higher since many cases remain undiagnosed, and because Tioga County is a sentinel county, meaning only a small percentage of Lyme disease cases are investigated.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks. It is important to note that not all ticks transmit Lyme disease. Symptoms usually develop within three to 30 days and may include: fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and/or a bull’s-eye rash. Serious health complications can occur if Lyme is left untreated, so it is important to be attentive if a tick bite occurs. Early treatment of Lyme disease involves antibiotics and almost always results in a full recovery. However, the chances of a complete recovery decrease if treatment is delayed.

In today’s busy and demanding world we do not have time for Lyme! Take these steps to protect against ticks:
 Avoid grassy, brushy, or wooded areas with high leaf and grass litter
o If you are out in these areas, wear long-sleeved, light-colored clothing especially in highly wooded areas, and walk in the center of trails
 Treat boots, camping gear, and clothing with products containing 0.5% permethrin
o Permethrin is an insecticide in the pyrethroid family. Pyrethroids are synthetic chemicals that act like natural extracts from the chrysanthemum flower.
 Use insect repellent containing DEET, registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
 Examine pets, clothing, and gear for ticks
 Carefully check your body for ticks and immediately shower after coming indoors

If you have been bitten by a tick, remove it as soon as possible. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull upward with even, steady pressure. Do not twist or jerk, as this can cause the mouthparts of the tick to break off and remain in the skin. After removal, clean the bite area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. Lastly, dispose of the tick by placing it in alcohol or a sealed bag, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers. Never use dangerous methods, such as fire, to remove a tick. If you are experiencing any symptoms of Lyme disease, please contact your primary health care provider.

New York State has a free tick testing program, in Syracuse, for ticks captured in NY. Since 2021, 179 ticks
were tested in Tioga County and 59 were positive for Lyme disease. More information about the free testing program can be found by visiting nyticks.org.