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Ed Day, Rockland County Executive

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 30, 2015
Contact:  Scott Salotto (845) 638-5645                
                Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, DO, FAAFP (845) 364-2512

 

HEALTH DEPARTMENT: DON'T LET TICKS RUIN YOUR SUMMER OUTDOOR FUN

NEW CITY, NY  --   Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert urge residents to take steps to prevent Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases, now that summer has arrived.

"It is important for all residents to learn simple steps to protect yourself, your family and your pets from tick-borne diseases as you spend time outside enjoying the warm weather," said Dr. Ruppert.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that spreads when an infected deer tick bites a person and stays attached for 36 hours or more. Ticks are typically active when the weather stays above freezing, usually from April to November. All the snow we had last winter and long-lasting snow cover likely provided insulation to allow ticks to survive the winter.

"In most cases of Lyme disease, an expanding rash resembling a bull's eye or solid patch will appear near the site of the bite. If an expanding rash or flu-like symptoms occur over a 30-day period following a tick bite, contact your health care provider immediately," said Dr. Ruppert.

Tick bites in New York can spread diseases other than Lyme disease as well. Some of these are less common such as babesiosis and anaplasmosis, and others are rare, such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Powassan Encephalitis. These diseases vary in how severe they are, but all can cause serious illness and even death, if untreated.

The New York State Department of Health recommends the following simple steps to help prevent Lyme and other tick-borne diseases:

  • When outdoors in a grassy or wooded area, make sure shirts are tucked in and also tuck pants into socks to prevent ticks from accessing the skin.  Wear long sleeved shirts and pants, when practical.  Wear light colored clothing that will make it easier to spot and remove ticks.  Check for ticks every two to three hours while outdoors, and brush off any ticks before they attach.
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks on your body.  Perform a full body check many times during the day, and at the end of the day, to ensure that no ticks are attached.
  • If a tick is found on the body, it is critical to remove it immediately, preferably with fine point tweezers, grasping the tick close to its attachment to the skin. When removing a tick, if its mouthparts break off and remain in the skin, do not be concerned. The mouthparts alone cannot spread Lyme disease because the infective body of the tick is no longer attached. The mouthparts can be left alone. They will dry up and fall out by themselves in a few days or they can be removed as you would a splinter.

Ticks pose risks to your pets as well.  Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and tick-borne diseases; more so than cats. Vaccines are not available for all the tick-borne diseases that dogs can get, and they don't keep dogs from bringing ticks into your home, making it very important to use a tick preventive product on dogs.  Tick bites on dogs may be hard to find. Symptoms may not appear for seven to 21 days or longer after a tick bite, so dogs need to be closely monitored for changes in behavior or appetite if a tick bite is suspected. Remember to check your pets for ticks daily, especially after they spend time outdoors. If a tick is found, remove it immediately, and ask your veterinarian to conduct a tick check at each exam and discuss using tick preventives on your pet.  Don't apply any tick preventative to cats without first consulting a veterinarian since cats are extremely sensitive to a variety of chemicals.

Repellents also provide protection against tick and mosquito bites. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend choosing a repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus for use on skin. Clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents, can be treated with products containing permethrin. (Permethrin should not be used on skin.) Treated clothing or gear remains protected through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is also available and remains protected for up to 70 washings. For all repellents, follow the label directions and apply in small amounts, avoiding contact with the eyes, nose or mouth. Use only small amounts when applying repellents on children.

For more information on Lyme or other tick-borne diseases: visit www.rocklandgov.com/departments/health/  or www.health.ny.gov/