Lyme Disease

Ticks that Spread Lyme Disease

BINGHAMTON, NY – Summer is here, which means it’s time for New Yorkers to take precautions to protect themselves from Lyme disease. Lyme disease has become an important public health problem in New York State. Broome County residents should be aware that there is a risk of contracting Lyme disease in this region, and should take appropriate precautions.

Lyme disease is spread by the bite of infected deer tick. Ticks cannot fly or jump. They like to rest on low-lying vegetation and attach to a passing animal or person. Once on a body, ticks often attach to the more hidden areas such as the groin, armpits and scalp.
 
Campers, hikers, outdoor workers and others who frequent wooded and tall grassy areas will be more likely to be exposed to ticks. The risk of exposure to ticks is greatest along trails in the woods and on the edges of properties with tall vegetation, but ticks may also be carried by animals and pets into lawns and gardens.
 
Early stages of Lyme disease are usually marked by one or more of the following symptoms and signs: fatigue, chills and fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, swollen lymph nodes, and/or a “bull’s eye” red rash appearing on the skin at the site of the bite. Lyme disease is often difficult to diagnose, because its symptoms and signs mimic those of many other diseases. Left untreated, Lyme disease can produce severe arthritis, or cause neurological or cardiac problems. However with early detection and treatment with antibiotics, recovery from Lyme disease is usually rapid and complete.
 
You can decrease you and your family’s chances of being bitten by a tick by following a few precautions:
  • Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • When in wooded and grassy areas, which are likely to be tick-infested, wear light-colored clothing (to spot ticks) and tuck pants into socks and shirt into pants.
  • Walk in center of trails.
  • Check for ticks on clothing and on skin. Brush off any ticks on clothing before they can attach to your skin. Also, check your children and pets for ticks.
  • Use repellents that contain 20% or more DEET on exposed skin. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes and mouth. For more information on the use and effectiveness of tick repellents, see the Environmental Protection Agency’s website at  http://cfpub.epa.gov./oppref/insect.
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) if you have been in a wooded area where exposure to ticks is greatest. This will help to wash off and more easily find ticks crawling on you.
  • Do a thorough tick-check of your entire body at the end of the day. Pay particular attention to the back of the knees, behind the ears, the scalp, the armpits and your back.
If any ticks are found, they should be removed immediately. Use fine-tipped tweezers to carefully grasp the mouth-parts of the tick close to the skin, and then gently and steadily pull the tick out without twisting or squeezing.
 
After removing the tick, wash the bite area thoroughly, apply antiseptic, and mark the area to watch for symptoms. Gasoline, kerosene, petroleum jelly or hot matches should never be used to remove ticks.
Tick identification service through the Broome County Health Department or the New York State Department of Health is no longer available.
For more information about Lyme disease visit the Broome County Health Department’s website at www.gobroomecounty.com/eh.
  
05/30/2012 - 11:48am