By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
The New York City Department of Health on Wednesday reminded the public to protect themselves and their families from tick-borne illnesses as summer approaches and people begin to travel and engage in outdoor activities.
The most common tick-borne disease diagnosed among New Yorkers is Lyme disease; less common are anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and ehrlichiosis. The number of people in New York City diagnosed each year with Lyme disease has ranged between 700 and 800 over the past several years with 703 last year, and fewer with anaplasmosis (104), babesiosis (86), or ehrlichiosis (15). Other tick-borne diseases are rare, but have been reported, like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Borrelia miyamotoi disease, and Powassan virus encephalitis.
Tick surveillance by the Health Department continues to find the American dog tick in all boroughs of NYC. The blacklegged tick—which can spread Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and babesiosis—is widely established in Staten Island and areas of the Bronx including Pelham Bay Park and Hunter Island, but not in other areas of NYC. The lone star and Asian longhorned ticks are also well established in Staten Island and parts of the Bronx, and the Gulf. Asian longhorn ticks were first identified in NYC in 2018. As the density of this has tick grown, the density of blacklegged ticks has declined. Lone star ticks can spread ehrlichiosis and have also been associated with a food allergy particularly to red meat, but Asian longhorned ticks have not been shown to transmit disease in the US. Last year, tick surveillance found another tick, the Gulf Coast tick is established in Staten Island, but in very small numbers.
Recommendations to prevent tick bites and tick-borne illnesses
- Reduce your risk at home – if ticks are present, create a tick-safe zone.
- Keep grass short and don’t let piles of brush or leaves build up.
- Trim shrubs and tree branches around your yard to let in more sunlight.
- Create a barrier to define a tick-safe zone around your yard.
- Keep playground equipment and outdoor furniture in a sunny location, away from yard edges and trees.
- Don’t leave out food that attracts deer and other wildlife.
- Repel, don’t attract, ticks.
- Use insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus extract (also known as PMD).
- Permethrin products can be used on clothing or shoes (but not the skin) to repel and kill ticks.
- Stay in the center of cleared paths and hiking trails when walking in heavily-wooded areas.
- Wear light-colored clothing to see ticks easier.
- Tuck pants into socks and shirts into pants to prevent ticks from attaching to your skin.
- Wear gloves when gardening.
- After being outdoors in wooded, brushy or tall, grassy areas.
- Check for ticks on your body and clothing and remove any ticks you find on yourself, your child or your pet.
- Young ticks are very small (about the size of a poppy seed), so seek help to inspect not easily reachable areas. Be sure to look carefully in areas of the body where hair is present, since it may make it difficult to see the ticks. Adult ticks are about the size of an apple seed.
- Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors, preferably within two hours.
- Use hot water when washing clothing to kill ticks. If hot water cannot be used, tumble dry on low heat for 70 minutes or high heat for 40 minutes.
- Place dry clothing in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks. Wet or damp clothing might need more time in the dryer.
- If you get a rash or a fever, let the doctor know if you may have been exposed to ticks, even if you don’t remember having a tick bite.
- Ask your veterinarian which flea and tick repellents are best to use on your pet.
- Dogs can also get sick from ticks. If you think your dog may have been bitten by a tick and you see changes in your dog’s behavior or appetite, speak with your veterinarian.