Practice Tick Bite Prevention Habits This Summer

OSWEGO COUNTY – The Oswego County Health Department reminds residents of the importance of tick bite prevention and offers tips to protect against tick-borne diseases this summer.

“Ticks are active when temperatures are above 40 degrees, so as the weather gets warmer, the chances of finding ticks will increase,” said Oswego County Director of Public Health Vera Dunsmoor.

New York State has many species of ticks, but residents are most likely to encounter black-legged ticks (also known as deer ticks), American dog ticks or Lone-Star ticks. These pests can carry diseases such as Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis and babesiosis.

Ticks live in shady, moist areas at ground level. Usually found in leaf litter, they will cling to tall grass, brush and shrubs up to 18-24 inches off the ground. They also live in lawns and gardens, especially at the edges of woods and around old stone walls. Ticks don’t fly or jump but will attach to people as they move past them on vegetation.

While not all ticks or tick bites cause illness, it’s important to remember that there are some precautions people can take to prevent bites.

Follow these steps to keep you and your family safe from ticks:

  • Wear light-colored clothing to spot ticks easily.
  • Wear enclosed shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants.
  • Frequently check clothes and any exposed skin for ticks while outdoors.
  • Consider using EPA-registered insect repellent; and apply according to the package label.
  • Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails and walk in the center of the path. Avoid dense woods and bushy areas.
  • Avoid sitting directly on the ground or on stone walls.
  • Keep long hair tied back, especially when gardening.
  • Treat dogs and cats for ticks as recommended by a veterinarian.
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after going indoors, preferably within two hours, to wash off and more easily find ticks that may be on you.
  • Do a final full-body tick check at the end of the day and remove ticks promptly. It’s important to also check children and pets for ticks.

Removing a tick as soon as you find it may help reduce the likelihood of contracting any disease from a tick bite. Use fine-tipped tweezers, grab the tick near the mouth parts as close to the skin as possible, and pull firmly in an upward motion away from the skin. Dispose of the tick and wash the area with soap and water.

Call your health care provider if you have questions about tick-borne illness or if you develop symptoms after a tick bite.

For more information on preventing tick bites or tick-borne illnesses, contact the Oswego County Health Department at 315-349-3547.

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