Health officials still warn of Lyme Disease dangers

— Even though the weather has taken a turn for the cool, public health officials are still warning about a disease more known for being contracted in the summer months.

“The close of 2013 has provided us with relatively warm weather conditions that support extended activity of ticks and potential human exposure to Lyme Disease,” Essex County Public Health Director Linda Beers said.

The Essex County Public Health Communicable Disease program conducts surveillance of Lyme; provider outreach about increased activity, reporting and testing recommendations; and community education and prevention outreach.

“Because of the weather conditions this fall and extended season of risk for the transmission of Lyme Disease, it is important people continue to be aware of risk and how best to protect themselves,” said Beers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends conducting a full body check after being outdoors. Parents should check their children for ticks behind knees and between legs, inside the belly button, under arms, behind the knees, around the ears and especially in hair. Ticks must typically be attached for longer than 36 hours to transmit the bacteria-causing Lyme Disease to people.

If an attached tick is found, remove it by grasping firmly and as close to the skin as possible with tweezers and pulling straight up. Wash the bite site with warm soap and water or rubbing alcohol to clean it. Contact your health care provider if a rash develops or you think the tick may have been attached for longer than 36 hours.

Typical symptoms of Lyme Disease include headache, fatigue, fever, and a bulls-eye rash. Left un-diagnosed or untreated those infected may also experience joint, heart and nervous system symptoms.

For more information about tick protection around your home, and preventing Lyme Disease in people and pets, visit co.essex.ny.us/PublicHealth and click on the Lyme Disease button from the home page. Your doctor or a public health nurse (873-3500) are also able to answer your questions.

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