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 14, 2024) – 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. There are several diseases that can be transmitted by ticks with Lyme disease being the most commonly reported in New York State, with an average of more than 9,000 cases reported each year.

"The warm weather is finally here, and we know that means people are spending more and more time outside, but unfortunately so are ticks, which can spread serious diseases such as Lyme disease to you and your pets," State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "The good news is that some simple prevention measures can help keep you safe. This includes frequently checking your clothing for ticks, which can be as small as a poppyseed during the summer months, throughout your time outside, not just at the end of the day when you check your body. Avoiding tall grassy, brushy, and wooded areas, or using protective clothing and repellent when recreating in those areas can help keep you safe and healthy."

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted when an infected blackleggedtick (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 often appears 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.

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. Tucking your shirt into your pants and your pants into your socks provides additional protection.
  • 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. See the Department of Health's website for a video on repellent use. Consider treating clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin or buy permethrin-treated products. Permethrin products are not intended for use on skin; follow label instructions.
  • 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.

If you find an attached tick, use fine-tipped tweezers to remove it. Avoid risky removal strategies such as detergent or burning, as these could increase your risk of infection. See the Department of Health's website for a video on proper tick removal technique. If you have difficulty removing a tick, see your health care provider.

State Parks Commissioner Pro Tempore Randy Simons 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 like Lyme disease."

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Interim Commissioner Sean Mahar said,"With the onset of warmer weather and the opportunity for more visitors to enjoy the outdoors, DEC encourages New Yorkers to take steps to protect themselves against ticks and tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease. Outdoor enthusiasts and the general public alike are reminded to prepare before venturing out and keep tick-free by wearing appropriate clothing, using insect repellant, and avoiding high grass or densely wooded areas."

Tick bites can transmit diseases in addition to Lyme disease including anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and although rare, Powassan virus encephalitis. The blacklegged tick can carry pathogens that cause anaplasmosis and babesiosis, the second and third most common tick-borne diseases impacting nearly 2,000 New Yorkers annually combined.

Anaplasmosis, in particular, has been found in an increasing number of New Yorkers over a larger geographic area over the past several years, with infections now occurring north and west of the Capital Region. 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 New York State as well, although case numbers are very low (generally 1-5 cases per year).

The Department 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. A map showing your risk of encountering an infected blacklegged tick by NY geographic region can be found at: Tick Score by Region.

For more information about Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases, visit