Cool, sunny days and the beautiful fall foliage of Columbia County draws the community outside in big numbers. As a result, many of our family, friends and neighbors are exposed to the risk of Lyme disease through bites of the black-legged or deer tick. Lyme has become a major public health issue in our area. In fact, Columbia County has the highest rates of Lyme disease per capita in the country. Rates are expected to increase this year due to a bumper crop of acorns, resulting in more mice that commonly carry the nymph tick, the most threatening type of tick.
Protect your family, friends, neighbors and yourself this season by using these tips to prevent becoming infected by Lyme disease. If you find an embedded tick or rash, contact your doctor or visit an Urgent Care center.
1. Check yourself regularly
Ticks can find and attach to us whether we’re in the woods, or in our own yards, If you’re outside for any reason, you should check regularly for bites.
- Check yourself immediately after being outside and three days later.
- Have a friend or family member help check for bites in places on your body that you can’t see or reach.
- Look for a small black dot or a bulls-eye shaped rash. While getting bitten by a tick doesn’t always mean you will get Lyme, having a bulls eye rash is a clear indicator.
- If you’ve been bitten by a tick, see a physician as soon as possible for proper diagnosis and treatment.
2. Take precautions when going outside
Many of us love living in the Hudson Valley Region for the abundance of outdoor activities. Hiking, biking, mountain climbing, kayaking and canoeing are popular activities, but being outdoors can put us at high risk for tick bites and infection of Lyme disease. Use these tips to protect yourself during outdoor activities:
- Walk in the middle of trails. Stay away from tall grass or foliage where ticks might hide.
- Cover your skin as much as possible. Wear long sleeves and pants, to prevent ticks from coming into contact with your skin.
- Wear white. It will make the black bodies of the ticks more easily visible
3. Protect your Property
Ticks could be hiding anywhere, even on our own properties. It’s important to take proper care of yards and areas around the home in order to keep our families, neighbors and selves safe from Lyme. Keep your home tick-free by:
- Keeping stone and wood piles away from the house—ticks like to hide in small cracks and crevices where they are shielded from light
- Keeping play equipment and play sets in direct sunlight—ticks hate the sun
- Keeping critters out of your yard. Build a fence or set traps to keep mice and deer away, as they are carriers of ticks
- Checking your pets before they come back inside
Taking the proper precautions can greatly reduce your risk of contracting lyme disease from a tick bite. Stay safe this fall by checking yourself regularly, protecting yourself outdoors and using the appropriate property prevention. If you discover an embedded tick or symptoms of Lyme disease, seek immediate medical attention at your doctor’s office or at an Urgent Care center.