New York State Department of Health Recognizes Lyme Disease Awareness Month in May
DOH, DEC and State Parks Remind New Yorkers to Protect Against Ticks
Proper Precautions Can Help Prevent Lyme Disease and Other Tick-Borne Illnesses
ALBANY, N.Y. (May 24, 2023) – To recognize Lyme Disease Awareness Month, the New York State Department of Health, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation today remind New Yorkers, visitors and everyone who enjoys the outdoors of the importance of protecting against ticks and tick-borne illnesses like Lyme Disease, now that warm weather has arrived and ticks are active. Lyme disease is the most commonly reported tick-borne disease in New York State, with over 7,000 cases reported each year.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that spreads when an infected black-legged tick (commonly called a deer tick, the most common tick in New York) bites a person and remains attached for 24 or more hours. In some cases, an expanding rash resembling a bull's eye or solid patch will appear near the site of the bite. If an expanding rash with a diameter of more than two inches appears or flu-like symptoms occur over a 30-day period following a tick bite, individuals should contact their health care provider immediately.
"As the weather gets warmer, New Yorkers are naturally spending more and more time outside. Because ticks can be found outdoors in most areas of New York, we want to make sure people are educated on how to prevent tick bites and tick-borne illnesses like Lyme Disease," Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "It only takes one bite from an infected tick to become seriously ill with debilitating symptoms, so we recommend that people practice some simple prevention measures to avoid being bitten and to protect their health."
While hiking, working, or spending time in wooded areas, follow these simple steps to help prevent tick bites:
- Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts for protection. Light colored clothing is best because it allows for greater visibility of ticks.
- When hiking, stick to the center of trails as opposed to walking on the edges.
- Check for ticks often while outdoors and brush off any before they attach.
- Perform a full body check multiple times during the day, as well as at the end of the day, to ensure that no ticks are attached.
- Consider using repellents containing DEET, picaridin or IR3535, and follow label instructions.
- Consider treating clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin or buy permethrin-treated products.
- Put clothes in a hot dryer for 10-15 minutes after coming indoors.
- Shower soon after being outdoors. Showering may help wash off unattached ticks and it is a good opportunity to do a tick check.
- Remember to check pets for ticks after spending time outdoors, and talk to your veterinarian about ways to reduce ticks on your pet.
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "With warmer temperatures and more people seeking to explore the outdoors this time of year, it's important to remember that tick safety and prevention should be a part of everyone's preparations. Before heading to parks, trails and campgrounds this season, I encourage visitors to get familiar with the tips and best practices to help avoid and prevent tick-borne diseases."
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "With the arrival of warmer temperatures and favorable conditions for outdoor activities like camping, hunting, and hiking, DEC encourages New Yorkers to take steps to protect themselves against ticks and tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease.When preparing for your next outdoor adventure, help keep tick-free by wearing appropriate clothing, using insect repellant, and avoiding high grass or densely wooded areas by staying on marked trails for your safety."
Tick bites can transmit diseases in addition to Lyme disease. The black-legged tick can carry pathogens that cause anaplasmosis and babesiosis, the second and third most common tick-borne diseases impacting over 1,000 New Yorkers annually combined. Other less-common tick-borne diseases that can be acquired in New York State include ehrlichiosis which is transmitted by the Lone Star tick and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever which is transmitted by the American dog tick. Powassan encephalitis, a tick-borne viral illness that can cause encephalitis or meningitis, is reported each year in NYS as well, although case numbers are very low (generally 1-5 cases per year).
Recently, the Asian longhorned tick was identified in New York State for the first time, being found in several locations in New York City, Long Island, and the Lower Hudson Valley. While this tick has transmitted disease to humans in other parts of the world, more research is needed to determine whether this can occur in the United States. The Department has tested more than 2,000 of these ticks and has not found any disease-causing agents. Regardless, New Yorkers should continue to take measures to protect themselves, their children and their pets against all ticks and tick-borne diseases that are present in New York State.
DOH and its partners routinely collect and analyze ticks from across the state to better understand the tick population, tick behavior and regional trends in diseases carried by ticks. Current and retrospective tick collection and testing results are publicly available on the Department's Health Data NY website.
For more information about Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases, visit: https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/lyme/.