What is Lyme disease and how is it spread?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is passed to humans and animals through the bite of infected ticks. In New York State, Lyme disease is spread by the blacklegged tick, otherwise known as the deer tick. Symptoms of Lyme disease can vary based on the stage of infection, but they can include fever, rash, facial paralysis, and arthritis. If you experience these symptoms and have had a tick bite or have spent time outside where you may have been exposed to ticks, contact your health care provider. Lyme disease is treatable with antibiotics.
Ticks like to live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas. They can also be carried by animals that spend time outdoors. You can protect yourself from ticks the following ways:
- Dress to repel. Wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and close-toed shoes. Wear light-colored clothing that will allow you to easily spot ticks, and consider using insect repellent. This search tool from the EPA can help you find a repellent that meets your needs: https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-repellent-right-you
- Walk in the center of trails and try to avoid wooded and brushy areas.
- While outdoors, check yourself frequently for ticks.
- Shower or bathe after coming indoors, which will allow you to more easily find any ticks that may be on you. Conduct a final full-body check, and make sure to check areas that are harder to see, like behind the ears and inside the belly button. Also be sure to check children and pets who may bring ticks inside.
If you find a tick on your body, promptly follow these steps to remove it:
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as you can.
- Pull steadily upward to remove the tick. Do not twist or jerk the tick. If the tick’s mouth detaches from the tick’s body and you cannot remove it easily, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
- After you remove the tick, clean your hands and the bite area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
- Dispose of the tick by putting it in rubbing alcohol, putting it in a sealed container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet.
To learn more about ticks and Lyme disease, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/index.html or https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/lyme/