To The Editor:
In Oswego County, we have seen increased cases of Lyme disease in the past several years. As summer is here and schools are on vacation, people, especially children, will be involved in more outdoor activities.
I would like to remind residents to diligently practice tick checks for preventing Lyme disease from ticks.
Lyme disease is a bacterial disease transmitted through the saliva of an infected deer tick.
It takes up to 72 hours for a tick to transmit the bacteria to its host.
Early signs of Lyme disease may include rash, fever, muscle aches, headaches, and fatigue.
As the disease progresses, multiple systems can be involved, and patients can suffer chronic pain, neurological impairments, and other severe symptoms.
Common habitats for the deer tick are leaf litter in wooded areas,
grassy areas along wooded edges, and low bushes and shrubs.
Deer ticks are not commonly found on athletic fields and cut lawns.
Ticks transmit Lyme disease in two of their life stages: nymph (the immature) and adult.
Nymphs, active in spring and summer, are tiny, as the size of a poppy seed, and difficult to see.
Adult ticks, active in late summer and fall (in some situations even in winter), are much larger and are more likely to be discovered.
Apply Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents, containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone, and follow the product instructions before you go out.
Avoid tall grasses and bushy, wooded areas when you are out.
In addition to these protective measures, it is essential to perform tick checks for yourself, your children, and your dogs after you return from outdoor activities.
The longer a tick is attached, the higher the risk of getting Lyme disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends tick checks are performed in two ways: physical inspections by feeling for ticks because ticks are tiny, and visual inspections by looking for nymph and adult ticks.
By feeling for ticks, you may discover ticks that are in hidden areas such as behind your knee or in your armpit, where you wouldn’t be able to see them easily.
To conduct a full body check, please pay particular attention to these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:
• under the arms,
• in and around the ears,
• inside the belly button,
• back of the knees,
• in and around the hair,
• between the legs, and
• around the waist.
To check your pets for ticks, please include these places on your dog:
• in and around the ears,
• around the eyelids,
• under the collar,
• around the tail,
• under the front legs,
• between the back legs, and
• between the toes.
If you have a dog vaccinated against Lyme disease, you still need to do tick checks because ticks on the dog can attach to a new host such as you, your family members, or other pets.
If you find a tick attached, you need to use tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible, then perpendicularly pull away from the skin and wash the area with soap and apply topical antiseptic.
The state Department of Health developed a video to show how to remove a tick on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGrK4ZKUfhQ.
Parents need to check their children carefully whenever they’ve been outdoors. Also, parents need to educate children not to remove ticks by themselves.
Director of Public Health
Oswego County Health Department