If It’s Summer, It’s Tick-Time; What You Need to Know to Stay Healthy (6/18/2014)

MEDIA RELEASE

 From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein                

Date June 18, 2014                    

CONTACT: Mary C. St. Mary/Mary.StMary@Erie.Gov

Phone: 716.858.4941/ Mobile: 716.253.3925

 

If It’s Summer, It’s Tick-Time

What You Need to Know to Stay Healthy 

ERIE COUNTY, NY—The Erie County Department of Health (“ECDOH”) reminds residents of the need to be vigilant against ticks during outdoor summer activities. “Bites from tiny, infected deer ticks can spread Lyme disease, which is a bacterial infection” said Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein. “Generally, the tick must be attached to an individual for at least 24 hours before it can spread bacteria.  This is why after spending time outdoors in an area likely to have ticks such as brushy, woody or grassy places, it is very important that you check yourself, your children and your pets for ticks.”

The best defense against ticks is a prevention-oriented offense!  In tick-infested areas, 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.

  • Use a repellent with DEET (the chemical N-N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) or permethrin according to the instructions given on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30% or less on older children. Permethrin products are intended for use on items such as clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear, and should not be applied to skin.
  • Wear long, light-colored pants tucked into your socks or closed-toed shoes, and a long-sleeved shirt. This may be difficult to do when the weather is hot, but it will help keep ticks away from your skin and help you spot a tick on your clothing faster.
  • Stay on cleared trails when walking or hiking, avoiding the edge habitat where ticks are likely to be.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about tick control options (tick collars, repellents) for your pets.

Symptoms of early Lyme disease usually begin to appear from 3 to 30 days after being bitten by an infected tick. If untreated, symptoms of late Lyme disease may occur from weeks to years after the initial infection.

The early symptoms of Lyme disease may be mild and easily missed. Early stage symptoms (days to weeks) include: The most common early symptom is a rash (erythema migrans) where the tick was attached. It often, but not always, starts as a small red area that spreads outward, clearing up in the center so it looks like a bulls-eye. Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, stiff neck, sore and aching muscles and joints, fatigue and swollen glands may also occur. Treatment during the early stage prevents later, more serious problems.

If untreated, people with Lyme disease can develop late-stage symptoms. The joints, nervous system and heart are most commonly affected.

• About 60% of people with untreated Lyme disease get arthritis in their knees, elbows and/or wrists. The arthritis can move from joint to joint and become chronic.

• Many people who don’t get treatment develop nervous system problems. These problems include meningitis (an inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord), facial weakness (Bell’s palsy) or other problems with nerves of the head, and weakness or pain (or both) in the hands, arms, feet and/or legs. These symptoms can last for months, often shifting between mild and severe.

• The heart also can be affected in Lyme disease, with slowing down of the heart rate and fainting.

Untreated, Lyme disease can cause a number of health problems” stated Burstein. “But, patients treated promptly with antibiotics in the early stage of the infection usually recover rapidly and completely.” 

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For more information:

Erie County Department of Health – http://www2.erie.gov/health/

New York State Department of Health -- http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/lyme/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/prev/index.html