North Country health officials warn of infected ticks as temperatures drop

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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — With the change of seasons, a well-known pest is again posing risks to North Country residents.

Ticks, and vector-borne illnesses, continue to be a cause of concern, especially in the spring and fall months. This is because the nymph, or “baby” ticks, have now grown into adults and are preparing to again go underground in colder temperatures.

According to Jefferson County Public Health Educator Lisa Lagos, ticks will continue to be active as long as temperatures are above freezing.

“As long as the temperatures are above freezing ticks are active. So you always want to make sure you’re protecting yourself if you’re outdoors,” Lagos said. “So if you’re hiking, if you’re camping, deer hunting, especially, you want to make sure you’re protecting yourself from tick bites.”

Tick bites can be especially dangerous to humans and other mammals due to their ability to spread illnesses. In the North Country, the main concern is the deer tick which can spread both Lyme Disease and Anaplasmosis, which are bacterial infections.

These pests are known to hide in damp places, such as leaf piles, woodshed and shaded forests. Lagos said that Public Health is continuing to see cases of Lyme Disease every year as ticks continue to infest the region.

We do see cases of Lyme disease every year,” Lago shared. “Every year is a little bit different. But of course, we know as our climate is changing, tick species, they change where they are geographically; they expand where they are. And nfortunately, the diseases that they carry changes too.”

To prevent getting bit by a tick, health experts encourage anyone pursuing the outdoors this fall to wear proper gear. This includes covering arms and legs, and even hands when necessary. Additionally, hunters and campers are encouraged to use Permetherin spray to treat gear and equipment that will kill ticks onsite. After coming indoors, individuals are also encouraged to do a daily tick check and shower to remove any loose ticks.

However, if you do find a tick, Public Health recommends removing it completely as soon as possible. Then, individuals are asked to monitor for symptoms, which for Lyme Disease can sometimes appear three to 30 days after a person is bit. The New York State Department of Health also confirmed that the most severe symptoms of the disease may not appear until weeks, months, or years after the tick bite.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease may include the “Bulls-eye” rash known as erthema migrans, joint pain, chills, fever, fatigue, stiff neck, tingling or numbness in the arms and legs. If bit and experiencing symptoms, North Country residents are urged to visit their doctor to receive antibiotics.

More information on Ticks and Lyme Disease can be found on the NYDOH, Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Jefferson County Public Health website.

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