Ticks & Lyme Disease
The incidence of Lyme disease in Western New York is on the rise. In 2016, Yates County had 20 reported cases. Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium, which is carried by the black-legged deer tick. During early stages of development, ticks are very small, and may not be easily noticed. Those who spend a significant amount of time doing outdoor activities or gardening are most at risk. The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to take measures to reduce tick habitat and prevent tick bites.
Pets are at risk for Lyme disease too. Make sure you use an appropriate flea and tick treatment year round. Talk to your veterinarian to find out which product is right for your pet.
Tips for Avoiding Tick Bites
- Use insect repellent on skin and clothing when outdoors.
- Walk on cleared trails and avoid tall grass, brush, and leaf litter.
- Do not sit on the ground, stone walls, or near a wood pile. These are favored tick habitats.
- Wear light colored clothes to make it easier to spot ticks crawling on you.
- Shower and change clothes as soon as possible after coming in from outdoors.
- Make a habit of checking your pets, children, and yourself, for ticks after spending time outdoors.
Removing a Tick
If you do find an embedded tick remove it as soon as possible using fine tipped tweezers, and clean the area thoroughly with soap and water or rubbing alcohol. Removing the tick properly and as soon as possible reduces the risk of disease transmission. The bacteria that causes Lyme disease is found in the stomach of the tick. So take care not the squeeze the tick's body or pull the tick out using finger nails. Also, using home remedies such as nail polish, petroleum jelly, or a hot match will increase the risk of agitating the tick and allow for the transmission of bacteria. Mark the date that you noticed the tick on your calendar so that you can accurately report the date of exposure to your doctor if you become ill. View the video below from the New York State Department of Health to see how to properly remove a tick.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease
Symptoms of Lyme disease include fatigue, headache, fever, joint or muscle pain, swollen lymph nodes, and a target shaped rash. Contact your physician if you develop a rash or fever within 30 days of a tick bite. Even if you are not aware that you were bitten by a tick, seek medical attention for a circular rash, accompanied by flu-like symptoms. Untreated Lyme disease may lead to long term health issues such as: chronic arthritis, bell's palsy, or Lyme carditis (inflammation of the heart). If Lyme disease is suspected, your physician may order blood-work. Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics.