WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — With spring in the air and warmer temperatures are on the horizon, an annual concern is rising again in the North Country—or should we say, coming out of the ground?—as ticks emerge and bring threats of vector-borne illnesses.
Jefferson County Public Health Educator Lisa Lagos discussed how to avoid these dangers in the North Country. She explained that ticks feed on different animals at each stage of their life. Ticks first become a danger to humans in the second year of their lives in the “nymph stage.” This is illustrated in the graphic provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention below.
Disease is then spread by biting its host and then secreting a small amount of saliva. Lagos shared that the biggest threat to North Country residents is Lyme disease.
According to the New York State Department of Health, ticks will attach themselves anywhere including the thighs, groin, trunk, armpits and behind the ears.
Listed below are ways to protect yourself against and prevent disease if in tick-infested areas:
- Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave
- Wear enclosed shoes, long pants ad a long-sleeved shirt
- Check clothes and any exposed skin frequently
- Use insect repellent such as DEET or lemon eucalyptus
- Stay on clear, well-traveled trails
- Avoid sitting directly on the ground or on stone walls
- Keep long hair tied back, especially when gardening
- Bathe or shower as soon as possible after going indoors
- Do a final, full-body tick check at the end of the day and remove ticks promptly
But if you are bitten by a tick, Lagos urged the importance of removing the parasite as soon as possible. After removing a tick, Lagos emphasized that it is important to watch for symptoms of Lyme disease for 30 days.
Symptoms of the disease include:
- “Bulls-eye” rash known as erthema migrans
- Joint pain
- Stiff neck
- Tingling or numbness in the arms and legs
NYDOH confirmed that the most sever symptoms of the disease may not appear until weeks, months or years after the tick bit. If bit and experiencing symptoms, North Country residents are urged to visit their doctor to receive antibiotics.
More information on Ticks and Lyme Disease can be found on the NYDOH and CDC website.
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