(WNY News Now) – As Lyme disease cases surge in Chautauqua County, residents are advised to be vigilant against ticks, recognize Lyme disease symptoms, and know when to seek medical attention.
Chautauqua County – The Chautauqua County Health Department is sounding the alarm as Lyme disease cases have more than doubled since 2014. Lyme disease, caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, is primarily transmitted to humans through infected blacklegged ticks, commonly known as “deer ticks.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it typically takes over 36 hours of tick attachment for Lyme disease transmission to occur. Early tick removal within 24 hours significantly reduces the risk.
Deer ticks thrive in shady, moist areas near the ground, often clinging to tall grass, shrubs, and bushes. Contrary to common misconceptions, ticks do not jump or fly; they wait in vegetation and attach themselves to passing animals or humans, climbing upwards to find a suitable feeding spot.
For those who enjoy outdoor activities, the Health Department offers several precautions:
Wear light-colored, tightly woven clothing for easy tick detection.
Use enclosed shoes, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts, tucking pant legs into socks or boots and shirts into pants.
Regularly check clothing and exposed skin for ticks during outdoor activities.
Consider using insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
Stick to well-traveled trails, avoiding dense wooded and bushy areas.
Avoid sitting directly on the ground or stone walls.
Keep long hair tied back.
After outdoor activities, promptly bathe or shower to wash off and locate any ticks.
Perform a thorough tick check, including children and pets, at the end of the day.
Depending on the tick’s duration of attachment, a single antibiotic dose may be necessary to prevent Lyme disease. Contact a healthcare provider promptly, especially if uncertainty surrounds the tick’s attachment time or if it appears engorged with blood. It’s important to note that the Chautauqua County Health Department does not provide tick testing for disease-causing bacteria.
For further information, residents can visit www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/lyme or www.cdc.gov/lyme/index.html, or contact the local Environmental Health Division at 1-800-604-6789. Stay safe and informed when enjoying the great outdoors.