May Is Lyme Disease Awareness Month
The Rockland County Department of Health announces that May is Lyme Disease Awareness month and reminds residents to protect against ticks when outdoors.
Tick-borne diseases are a serious health threat. Although ticks can transmit many diseases, Lyme disease is the most prevalent of the tick-borne diseases and continues to be identified in our area. Lyme disease is caused by the bite of an infected deer tick and may affect the skin, nervous system, joints and/or the heart. If not diagnosed and treated early, it can have permanent health effects.
As the weather gets warmer, most of us can’t wait to get out of the house and spend time outdoors. “However, because of the risk of coming in contact with ticks when participating in outdoor activities—it’s important that we take measures to be tick-free,” warns Dr. Joan Facelle, Commissioner of Health of the Rockland County Department of Health. May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, a perfect time for us to learn what we need to do to protect ourselves against tick-borne diseases.
When outside, take the following steps to reduce exposure to deer ticks:
• Wear light-colored clothing (to spot ticks better).
• Tuck pants into socks and shirt into pants to reduce exposed skin.
• Wear enclosed shoes.
• Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails when hiking in the woods.
• Avoid sitting directly on the ground or on stone walls.
• After every two to three hours outdoors, check for ticks on clothing or skin. Brush off any ticks on clothing before they can attach to your skin.
• Do a thorough tick-check of your entire body at the end of the day. Pay particular attention to the back of the knees, behind the ears, the scalp, the arm pits, body truck, back, groin area and behind your knees. Check your kids and pets, too.
• Remove ticks as soon as possible. If you remove an attached tick within 36 hours, the risk of infection is greatly reduced.
• Upon returning home, put clothes in a high temperature dryer for 20 minutes to kill any unseen ticks.
• If you consider the use of insect repellents to reduce tick bites, follow label instructions carefully.
To remove a tick use fine tipped tweezers, grasp the tick near the mouthparts, as close to the skin as possible. Don’t squeeze, crush or puncture the body of the tick, which may contain infectious fluids. Pull the tick in a steady, upward motion away from the skin. Cleanse bite site thoroughly. Observe for Lyme disease symptoms over the next 30 days.