MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County officials are warning that there are more ticks in the county and more ticks infected with the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. They are warning residents to take precautions to guard against the disease.
The Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) advises residents and visitors to prevent tick bites, check for and properly remove ticks, and understand the symptoms for Lyme disease.
In some areas of Chautauqua County, as many as 54 percent of the ticks are infected and the infection rate has doubled in a year, officials said.
“The risk of human infection is greatest in late spring and summer, due to the black-legged tick’s life cycle,” said Mark Stow, Director of Environmental Health Services. “Tick populations vary widely with some areas teaming with ticks while other areas have virtually no ticks.”
Lyme disease is spread when an infected tick bites a person and remains attached for 36 hours or more.
“Not all ticks can cause disease and not all bites will make you sick, but it’s important to learn how to prevent a bite, how to remove a tick and what to do if you think you could have a tick-borne disease,” said Christine Schuyler, County Director of Health and Human Services.
In 70-80 percent of cases, an expanding rash resembling a bullseye or solid patch will appear near the site of the bite. If an expanding rash with a diameter of two inches or more appears or flu-like symptoms occur over a 30-day period following a tick bite, contact your health care provider immediately.
Check clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks while outdoors.
Consider using insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Follow the label directions when using repellents and apply in small amounts, avoiding contact with the eyes, nose or mouth. For more information on repellents visit https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2749/
Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails. Walk in the center of trails. Avoid dense woods and bushy areas.
Avoid sitting directly on the ground or on stone walls.
Keep long hair tied back, especially when gardening.
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 (also check children and pets), and remove ticks promptly. Be aware that a nymphal deer ticks is about the size of a poppy seed, and an adult is roughly the size of a sesame seed.
If a tick is found on the body, it is critical to remove it immediately, preferably with fine point tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to its attachment to the skin and pull firmly upward. When removing a tick, if its mouthparts break off and remain in the skin, do not be concerned. The mouthparts alone cannot transmit Lyme disease.