UTICA, NY-- An abundance of ticks carrying the bacteria that causes Lyme disease are expected to be in and around the Central New York region throughout the summer.
Holly Wise, the consumer horticulture resource educator, for Cornell Cooperative Extension, said because of an increase in population or deer, chipmunks and mice, there will be surge in ticks throughout the summer.
"[The chipmuck and mice] come up close to peoples decks, yards, running around and that's the way the ticks can be invited in," she said.
Lyme disease is a potential debilitating infection that can result in heart problems, extreme fatigue and nervous system disorders. Once a tick has attached itself onto an individual it takes 36 to 48 hours before an infection can spread. Early symptoms usually occur within the first 30 days of being bitten, which include fever, chills, headache, stiff neck, fatigue, muscle and joint pains and a circular rash, known as a bull's eye.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, New York State has one of the highest infections rates of people with Lyme disease. The CDC estimates the number of Lyme disease cases nationwide could be 10 times higher than what has been reported. The symptoms of Lyme disease mimic the flu and infected people and their doctors often don't test for it. It requires a special blood test and it is often misdiagnosed.
Ticks can be harmful to animals too.
Abby Regner, a veterinarian for the New Hartford Animal Hospital, said pet owners, especially dog owners, should use preventative methods to keep their pets safe.
"There are monthly preventions that you can put directly onto the skin, that are topical oil's that absorbed into the follicles of their hair," she said. "Or chewable's that you can actually give them a little treat once a month and there's even a Seresto collar, which is a gray collar that just the dog has to wear and lasts eight months."
Regner said pet owners should also check their dog's fur after being outside, by starting at the dog's tail and slowing press against its fur, over it's entire body. Regner added that although ticks are active in the summer months, the insects can live as long as temperatures stay above freezing, or 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tips for preventing tick bites
Avoid wooded and areas with high grass
Cover exposed skin especially during hikes
Use insect repellent with DEET
Take a shower immediately after outdoor activities
Wear light colored clothing
How to safely remove ticks