Ticks and Lyme Disease: What You Need to Know

by Leah Geoghegan | Board-Certified Nurse Practitioner

Over 300,000 Americans every year are newly diagnosed with Lyme Disease, an illness transmitted from the deer tick that can cause debilitating neurological and physical symptoms. If you are planning on spending time outdoors in Upstate NY, Pennsylvania, Long Island, or Connecticut this fall, you may come in contact with ticks that spread this disease and other co-infections.

We felt it was important to send a message out to our patients on how to prevent tick bites and how to respond should one occur.

Prevention Strategies:

  • Wear long pants while walking in the woods.
  • Tuck socks over pant legs to protect ankles.
  • Avoid walking through tall grass. Ticks hang on the ends of tall grass and will latch on to you as you brush past.
  • Prewash hiking clothes with Permethrin repellant.
  • Have a tick-checking buddy. Check yourself with a partner for ticks after being in high-risk areas. It is important to check crevices such as your buttocks, groin, and armpits, because ticks love damp areas.
  • Be sure to check your pets!

Resource: https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/avoid/on_people.html

If a Tick Bite Occurs:

  • Use tweezers to remove the tick from the head. Pinch down on the head to your skin at the insertion site and pull straight up until the tick releases its grip from your skin.
  • KEEP THE TICK! This is incredibly important, because we can test the tick for diseases if you keep it. Preserve the tick in 70-95% ethyl or isopropyl alcohol, available at any drug store, to ensure it is dead.
  • Inform the office that you have been bitten. We will ask you to come in for a visit where you will be assessed and blood work will be performed. Bring the tick with you for testing.
  • Be mindful of the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease after being bitten. Lyme is often called the “summer cold.” People often experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, rash, joint pains, and fatigue. Some people will also develop a bulls-eye rash around the bite region.

For a complete list of symptoms please go to: https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/signs_symptoms/index.html