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May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month

With warm weather approaching, watch out for ticks

By New York State Senator Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, 47th District

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by the blacklegged tick. The bacteria is one of 16 tick-borne pathogens the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking in the U.S.; six appear in New York. Ticks feed on wild animals such as mice, deer and birds. These hosts transport ticks and the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

Lyme disease can affect the skin, joints, nervous system and/or heart. Many diseases are regionally isolated; others are carried by certain ticks and appear at certain elevations. Many of these diseases produce symptoms similar to Lyme disease. Some can be fatal to vulnerable populations, or in very rare circumstances.

Awareness and limiting exposure remain the most effective ways of combating transmission of tick-borne disease. Ticks do not jump or fly. They perch on vegetation and grab animals upon contact. The insects prefer wooded areas and adjacent grasslands but also inhabit lawns and gardens where they meet the wood’s edge.

Here are some steps you can take to reduce your risk:

·        Stay on the center of trails and paths.

·        Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts; tuck the legs into your socks or boots.

·        Wear light colored and tightly woven clothing. This makes it easier to see ticks.

·        Repellents are effective against ticks (picardin, IR3535, DEET); other compounds (permethrin) can be applied to clothing. Always follow product instructions.

·        Check yourself, your children, and pets at least once per day for ticks. Mind the backs of knees, behind the ears, the scalp, armpits and back.

·        For a plant-based alternative to repellents, try Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE).

Most tick encounters occur from April through November. However, ticks are active in temperatures above freezing. As the climate changes, the geographic range of ticks, and the reach of diseases they carry, expands.

You can find additional information regarding Lyme disease prevention, how to remove a tick and symptoms by visiting New York State Department of Health website at

I hope you have fun outside, but please stay safe.


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