NEW YORK — Summer is just weeks away and it’s projected to be one of the worst summers for tick-borne diseases in years.
Ticks can spread Lyme Disease and Powassan, a serious disease that’s been on the rise. Infections from Lyme Disease can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system if it is left untreated. Powassan, which can be transmitted by three types of ticks, can cause encephalitis and meningitis.
More than 8,000 people were diagnosed with Lyme Disease in New York City over the last 15 years. Nearly half of those cases were in Manhattan, with recent trends showing increased rates of infections in Brookln and Staten Island. Powassan is less prevalent, but more 21 percent of all cases over the last decade were in New York.
Both diseases can be prevented with monitoring. People generally do not immediately notice tick bits, but they may feel a mild itching after a day or two. Ticks tend to migrate to the warmest parts of the body including the groin, armpits and scalp. They are also often found behind the ears, behind the knees and around the waist.
Here’s how to repel ticks:
There are tick repellents, though they are not 100 percent effective. Look for insect repellents with Deet as the primary ingredient. Look for one with 25-50 percent Deet.
Repellents with permethrin can also be used on clothing to keep ticks away. Clothing soaked in the repellent will keep ticks and mosquitoes away for weeks, even if the clothing has been washed.
While outside, avoid wooded and brushy area with high grass and leaf litter.
Here’s what to do once you’re back indoors:
Bathe or shower as soon as possible to was off any ticks that may be on your body. Make sure to pay attention to your scalp as you wash your hair.
Check all over your body for any ticks. Use a mirror if you need one.
Wash clothing in hot water to dislodge any ticks that you may have carried inside. Cold and medium temperature water won’t effectively kill tucks. If the clothing can’t be washed with hot water, tumble dry on low heat for 90 minutes or high heat for 60 minutes.
Here’s what you should do if you find a tick on you:
The first step is removing the tick, which can be done without a doctor visit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using fine-tipped tweezers to pull the tick straight out with steady pressure.
Be sure not to twist or jerk the tick, this can cause parts to break off and remain in the skin.
Once the tick has been removed, clean the bite area with alcohol and then soap and water.
Don’t get rid of the tick if you plan to visit a doctor. It can be sent to a lab for identification.
If you don’t plan to go to the doctor — and you don’t have to unless you develop symptoms — dispose of the tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.
Here’s when you should go to the doctor:
Head over to your doctor’s office if you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick.