Cases of tick bites have been increasing across the state, including in Fulton and Montgomery counties. Local health and hospital officials are trying to raise the public's awareness about ticks and the illnesses they can cause, especially Lyme disease.
Nathan Littauer Hospital is planning a Tick Town Hall Meeting for 6:30 p.m. May 14 at the Holiday Inn in Johnstown. Thomas N. Mather, director of the University of Rhode Island's Center for Vector-Borne Disease and TickEncounter Resource Center, will speak at the event.
Deer ticks live in shady, moist areas at ground level. They cling to tall grass, brush and shrubs, and also live in lawns and gardens. The ticks cannot jump or fly. They get on humans and animals by direct contact.
If you find a tick attached to your skin, remove it with tweezers and watch for symptoms of Lyme disease, a bacterial infection. Often, the first symptom is a rash. Other early symptoms may include joint pain, chills, fever and fatigue, the state Health Department says.
Patients treated with antibiotics in the early stage of the infection usually recover quickly. Chances of a complete cure decrease if treatment is delayed, the Health Department says. Severe symptoms of Lyme disease may not appear until weeks, months or years after the tick bite. Untreated Lyme disease can cause arthritis, joint swelling, and heart and central nervous system problems, the Health Department says.
Local residents should take precautions to avoid getting infected by ticks. For example, wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt; use insect repellent; stay on cleared, well-traveled trails; avoid sitting directly on the ground or stone walls; and do a full-body tick check at the end of the day. People also should check their pets for ticks.
In light of the recent surge in ticks, local residents should educate themselves about the tiny parasites and Lyme disease. We encourage people to get more information from their local hospital or health department, or the state Health Department's website (www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/lyme/). We also suggest people attend the Tick Town Hall Meeting.