Summer may be gone but fall’s colors and warm weather make outdoor
activities a welcome preface to the cold winter days ahead. So whether
you’re hunting or hiking in the woods, or puttering in the garden,
it’s important to take precautions and perform tick checks to keep
you, your family, and your pets safe.
What Is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by the bite of an infected
deer tick. Untreated, the disease can cause a number of health problems.
Ticks can be active any time the temperature is above 45° F. People
who spend time outdoors camping, hiking, golfing, or working or playing
in grassy and wooded environments are at an increased risk for exposure,
especially during the times of the year when ticks are most active.
How is Lyme disease spread?
The disease can be spread when an infected tick bites a person and stays
attached for a period of time. While the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention maintains that the tick must be attached for 36 -48 hours,
many health care experts advise seeking medical care immediately as there
is risk for exposure to other tick borne diseases (i.e. Rocky Mountain
spotted fever, STARI and tularemia). There is no evidence that Lyme disease
is transmitted from person-to-person through touching, kissing, or having
sex with a person who has Lyme disease. There are no reports of Lyme disease
transmission through breast milk.
What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?
Early symptoms of Lyme disease may be mild and easily missed. If you find
a tick attached to your skin, remove the tick with tweezers and watch
for symptoms. In 60-80% of diagnosed cases, the first symptom is a rash,
known as erythema migrans, that:
- Occurs at or near the site of the tick bite.
- Is a "bulls-eye" circular patch or solid red patch that grows larger.
- Appears between three days and one month after the tick bite.
- Has a diameter of two to six inches.
- Lasts for about three to five weeks.
- May or may not be warm to the touch.
- Is usually not painful or itchy.
- Can lead to multiple rashes.
Ticks will attach themselves anywhere on the body including: thighs, groin,
trunk, armpits and behind the ears. If you are infected, the rash may
be found in one of these areas. You may also experience other symptoms
- joint pain, chills, fever and fatigue – that worsen as the disease
progresses or include severe fatigue, a stiff neck, tingling or numbness
in the arms and legs, or facial paralysis. The most severe symptoms of
Lyme disease may not appear until weeks, months, or years following the
tick bite. These can include severe headaches, painful arthritis, swelling
of the joints, and heart and central nervous system problems.
How Is Lyme disease treated?
Early treatment of Lyme disease involves antibiotics and almost always
results in a complete recovery, especially when treatment is
not delayed. Make sure you check with your provider if you have any concern,
exhibit symptoms after a tick bite or after being in an area where ticks
are likely to be. Under certain circumstances the CDC recommends a preventative
dose of antibiotics be taken. For more information, visit the
How to prevent tick bites
If you find yourself in an area that may have ticks, your best protection
is to avoid contact with soil, leaf litter, and vegetation. However, if
you garden, hike, camp, hunt, work, or otherwise spend time in the outdoors,
you can still protect yourself in the following ways:
- Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily.
Wear enclosed shoes (not sandals), long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks, and
shirt into pants.
- Check clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks while outdoors
and check again once indoors.
- Consider using insect repellent.
- Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails. Avoid contact with vegetation.
- Avoid sitting directly on the ground or on stone walls.
- Keep long hair tied back, especially when gardening.
- Don’t forget to check your pets for ticks.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Cortland County Health Department
How To Remove A Tick
What You Need to Know About Lyme Disease
NYS Department of Health