Monday, 27 March 2023 19:07

Be On Guard to Prevent Tick Bites as Weather Warms

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Be On Guard to Prevent Tick Bites as Weather Warms Supplied photo

Spring is around the corner and people are ready to get out and enjoy warmer weather.

With this in mind, the Oswego County Health Department reminds residents that ticks are also becoming more active and looking for hosts – people, pets and wildlife – to attach to.

“Ticks can be active year-round when temperatures are above 45 degrees,” said Oswego County Public Health Director Vera Dunsmoor. “As the weather gets warmer, the chances of finding a tick on you, your family members or pets increase, so be sure to do ‘tick-checks’ when coming in from working or playing in the yard or from being out in the woods or brush.”

New York State has many species of ticks, but residents are most likely to encounter black-legged ticks also known as deer ticks, American dog ticks or Lone-Star ticks. These ticks can carry diseases such as Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis and babesiosis.

Ticks live in shady, moist areas at ground level. They will cling to tall grass, brush and shrubs, usually no more than 18 to 24 inches off the ground. They also live in lawns and gardens, especially at the edges of woods and around old stone walls. Ticks don’t fly or jump, but they will attach to you as you move past them on vegetation.

It’s important to remember that not all ticks or tick bites will make you sick, but here are some important steps to keep your family safe from ticks:

  • Wear light-colored clothing to be able to spot ticks easily.

  • Wear 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 an EPA-registered insect repellent, according to label instructions.

  • Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails. Walk in the center of trails. Avoid dense woods and bushy areas.

  • Avoid sitting directly on the ground or on stone walls.

  • Keep long hair tied back, especially when gardening.

  • Treat dogs and cats for ticks as recommended by a veterinarian.

  • 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.

Removing a tick as soon as you find it may help reduce the likelihood of contracting any disease from a tick bite. Use fine-tipped tweezers, grab the tick near the mouth parts as close to the skin as possible, and pull firmly in an upward motion away from the skin. Dispose of the tick and wash the area with soap and water.

Call your health care provider if you have questions about tick-borne illnesses or if you develop symptoms such as a circular red skin rash, high temperature, chills, headache, muscle aches or generally feeling ill.

For more information on preventing tick bites or tick-borne illnesses, contact the Oswego County Health Department at 315-349-3547.

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