Tick-Borne Illnesses Can Be Mitigated With Awareness

While outdoor summer recreational activities are a great way to spend time with family and friends, they do carry some risks. Spending time in wooded areas can increase the potential exposure to ticks and the serious diseases they can transmit. With this in mind, it is crucial all New Yorkers take care to avoid exposing themselves to tick-borne illnesses and check regularly for bites.
 
Upstate New York residents have seen several cases of the rare tick-borne Powassan virus crop up this summer, setting off public health alarms around the state. The virus is similar to Lyme disease, but the symptoms are more severe, according to Rare Disease Report.
 
INFORMATION & PREPARATION ARE THE BEST DEFENSE 
 
The Ontario County and Seneca County websites offer some helpful advice to avoid getting into bug-related trouble and outline protocols to use in the event of a tick bite. Please keep in mind a number of simple tips to help keep you and your family safe, including: 

  • Walking on cleared trails to avoid brush, leaves and tall grass;
  • Minimizing skin exposure and tucking your pant legs into your socks;
  • Wearing light clothing to help spot dark-colored ticks;
  • Showering soon after being outdoors;
  • Wearing repellent; and
  • Trying to limit the deer entering your yard. 

If you are bitten by a tick, use a tweezer to remove the bug. The websites stress avoiding the use of “alcohol, Vaseline, gasoline, nail polish, nail polish remover or above all, a match.” Once it’s removed, thoroughly wash the area. If signs of a skin infection begin to develop, such as redness, pain, warmth or a “bullseye-shaped” rash, call a healthcare provider.
 
Additional information can be found at Columbia University Medical Center’s Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Research Center.
 
There is much to do and see in New York’s great outdoors, especially in the Finger Lakes Region where our natural landscape is unmatched. This summer, I hope you and your loved ones have the chance to truly enjoy the recreational opportunities New York has to offer. However, doing so safely and responsibly is critical. If you are unsure about what activities and locations are risky, consult with an expert beforehand. That’s the best way to ensure a safe summer outdoor experience.
 
What do you think? I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, email me at kolbb@nyassembly.gov, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

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