New York State Department of Health Reminds New Yorkers to Take Precautions Against Ticks During Fall Outdoor Activities

Reminder Follows Confirmed Case of Powassan virus in Dutchess County

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 20, 2017) – The New York State Department of Health today reminded New Yorkers of the importance of protecting themselves against ticks and tick-borne illnesses as they participate in fall outdoor activities. Ticks remain active until the temperature drops below 40 or 45 degrees, so it's important to take precautions and check yourself for ticks even as the weather cools down.

This reminder comes as the Department has confirmed a case of Powassan virus, a tick-borne illness, in Dutchess County. This recently-confirmed case and three cases in Saratoga County from this past summer are the only confirmed cases of Powassan in New York State this year. Powassan virus is a rare viral disease that can cause symptoms ranging from mild flu-like symptoms to life-threatening encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). The disease remains extremely rare in New York State, with only 27 confirmed cases since 2000.

"This should not deter you from partaking in all the outdoor activities that our beautiful state has to offer this fall, as long as you remain vigilant," said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. "While you are outside taking advantage of hiking, hunting and leaf-peeping, or even raking leaves, it is important to take the time to protect yourself and your family against ticks and tick-borne illnesses."

"In Dutchess County, we have learned through decades of experience that several preventive measures can work together to offer the greatest protection against tick-borne diseases," said Dr. Anil K. Vaidian, Commissioner of the Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health. "It is important for residents to plan ahead before outdoor activities, be mindful of exposure while outdoors, and to remain vigilant in checking for ticks afterward for the best chance of prevention against tick-borne diseases."

Best practices to protect yourself from ticks and tick-borne illness include:

  • Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily, as well as enclosed shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants.
  • Check clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks while outdoors.
  • Consider using insect repellent.More information on repellent products is available here.
  • Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails. Walk in the center of trails. Avoid dense woods and bushy areas.
  • 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.

The Department of Health and its partners routinely collect and analyze ticks from across the state in order to better understand the tick population, tick behavior and regional trends in diseases carried by ticks. Current and retrospective tick collection and testing results will also be posted on the Department's Health Data NY site by the start of tick season in 2018.

The Department is also collaborating with the Department of Environmental Conservation to include tick-borne disease informational materials in hunter education and licensure programs; working with the State Education Department to implement new legislation requiring instructional materials for school districts and libraries to provide information about tick-borne disease; and planning to release a tick-borne disease surveillance and response plan, similar to the plan in place for mosquito-borne diseases, in 2018.

For more information about Powassan virus, Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses, visit: