OSWEGO – The Oswego County Health Department wants to remind people to “Be Tick Free” and take precautions from now through the fall season to protect themselves against potential tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is caused by the bite of an infected deer tick. Ticks are active when the weather stays above freezing, usually from April through November, with peak activity in spring and early summer, and again in the fall. If left untreated, Lyme disease can cause serious health complications, including musculoskeletal, neurological and cardiac problems.
“Lyme disease remains a public health concern in our county,” said Public Health Director Dr. Dennis Norfleet. “OswegoCountyresidents can protect themselves against Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases by taking a few simple precautions to prevent exposure to tick bites and by removing ticks promptly.”
When walking in wooded or grassy areas, Dr. Norfleet said people should wear light-colored clothing to make ticks visible, tuck pants into socks, and check for ticks after leaving these areas. Removing a tick within 36 hours after it begins feeding reduces the risk of infection.
The deer ticks that can carry Lyme disease are usually found in woody and grassy areas. However, ticks can be found in many different habitats, including residential lawns next to wooded areas.
To help avoid tick bites, follow these precautions:
- Wear light-colored clothing to spot ticks easily, and tuck pants into socks and shirt into pants when in tick-infested habitats, including wooded and grassy areas.
- Check for ticks on clothing or skin after every two to three hours outdoors. Brush off any ticks on clothing before they can attach to skin. Check children and pets regularly for ticks.
- Check entire body for ticks at the end of the day.
- Carefully read and follow instructions on insect repellent product labels. Don’t assume that repellents will provide complete protection from ticks.
- Don’t apply repellents directly to children. Apply to your own hands, using your hands to apply to the child.
- Products containing permethrin should be applied to clothing, not skin, treating the clothing before putting it on.
People should check often for ticks, and parents should also check their young children for ticks when they check themselves. If a tick is found, remove it immediately with tweezers by grasping the tick near the mouthparts as close to the skin as possible. Go to http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/ to learn how to properly remove a tick.
People who do find a tick on their body should call their health care provider for guidance. There are also private laboratories that can test ticks to see if they carry disease. A list of laboratories can be found at www.oswegocounty.com/health/environmental.html.
For more information about ticks or tick borne illnesses, call the Oswego County Health Department weekdays from8:30 a.m.to4 p.m.at 349-3557.