Prevention of Lyme Disease

BINGHAMTON, NY –Spring is here, which means it’s time for residents to take precautions to protect themselves from Lyme disease. 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 an infected deer tick. There are other diseases such as Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and infections such as Powassan virus that are caused by ticks. Not all ticks are infected, and your risk of Lyme disease is greatly reduced if the deer tick is removed within the first 36 hours. Infection of Powassan virus, although not prevalent here, can occur within minutes. The other diseases are greatly reduced if the tick is removed within 12-24 hours. Ticks are of greatest concern in late spring and early summer. Ticks are small and active at this time and are difficult to see. Ticks cannot fly or jump. They like to rest on low-lying vegetation and attach to a passing animal or person. 
 
Ticks can be found not only in wooded or tall grassy areas but also in well-manicured lawns. It is very important for those residents that garden or spend time playing on or working on their lawns to be aware.
 
You can minimize your chances of being bitten by a tick by following a few precautions:
 
  • When in wooded or 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.
  • Frequently check for ticks on clothing and on skin while outdoors and at the end of each day. Brush off any ticks on clothing before they can attach to your skin. 
  • Do a final, full-body tick check at the end of the day (also check children and pets), and remove ticks promptly. Once on a body, ticks can attach anywhere but often attach to the more hidden areas such as behind the knees and ears, groin, armpits and scalp.
  • Bathe or shower, preferably within two hours, or as soon as possible after being outdoors in wooded or grassy areas. This is the single most effective method for prevention of Lyme disease.
  • Use repellents that contain DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Follow the label directions when applying. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes, nose 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/. 
Early stages of Lyme disease are usually marked by one or more of the following signs and symptoms; fatigue, chills and fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, swollen lymph nodes, and (in 60-80% of cases) 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, recovery from Lyme disease is usually rapid and complete. Please see your primary care provider if you notice a “bull’s eye” rash or have the symptoms listed above. Early detection is key.
 
If any ticks are found, they should be removed immediately. Use fine-tipped tweezers to carefully grasp the tick close to the skin. Gently and steadily pull the tick out without twisting or squeezing. After removing the tick, wash the bite area thoroughly, apply antiseptic. Gasoline, kerosene, petroleum jelly or hot matches should never be used to remove ticks.
 
Your pets are susceptible to Lyme disease as well. Pets should be fully checked for ticks daily if allowed outdoors. Pets can bring ticks into the home from outside. Talk with your veterinarian about Lyme and tick preventative products.
 
Tick identification service through the Broome County Health Department or the New York State Department of Health is not available at this time.
 
For more information about Lyme disease visit the Broome County Health Department’s website at www.gobroomecounty.com/eh and the New York State Department of Health’s website at http://www.health.ny.gov/diseasses/communicable/lyme/
04/15/2014 - 3:13pm