Goshen, N.Y. – Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus and Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Jennifer Roman are recognizing Lyme Disease Awareness Month, and encourage residents to protect themselves and their families while enjoying outdoor activities.
May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month and also when young deer ticks, nymphs, start to become more active. Orange County has historically been a hot spot for Lyme disease cases. According to preliminary statistics from the State Department of Health, there were 521 confirmed or probable cases of Lyme disease in Orange County last year, and 531 in 2016.
“I encourage residents to protect themselves and their families from Lyme Disease while enjoying outdoor activities this summer,” Neuhaus said. “We are committed to ensuring that our community is informed about ways to prevent being bitten by a tick and what to look for if you may have been bitten by one. The Orange County Department of Health and I will continue to be proactive in keeping County residents healthy and free of Lyme disease.”
Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria transmitted by the bite of a female deer tick. It can cause a wide range of symptoms including fever, muscle and joint pain, and rash. As Lyme disease progresses, severe fatigue, a stiff neck, tingling or
numbness in the arms and legs, or facial paralysis can occur. If you notice these signs or symptoms, consult a health care provider immediately.
The most noticeable early sign is a rash resembling a bullseye, or solid patch, which usually, but not always, develops between three and 30 days after the tick bite. The rash can expand over time and last for several weeks. In some cases, no rash appears. According to Dr. Roman, the rash does not normally itch or feel painful.
“Lyme disease can have serious complications if it is not identified and treated early,” Roman said. “It is important that a tick be removed as soon as it is discovered. If the tick is removed within 36 hours, the risk of Lyme disease can be greatly reduced. When it comes to Lyme disease, prevention is key and we urge residents to take precautions to protect themselves from ticks when outside.”
If you find a tick attached to your body, remove it by taking the following steps:
- Using a pair of fine-tipped tweezers, grasp the tick near the mouthparts, as close to the skin as possible.
- Don’t twist or jerk the tick, this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin.
- Pull the tick in a steady, upward motion away from the skin.
- After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with soap, rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. Wash your hands carefully.
The Orange County Health Department can identify a tick to determine if it can transmit Lyme disease. Bring the entire tick in a plastic bag or small container to the Health Department office located at the 1887 County Building, 124 Main Street in Goshen on the third floor. The Health Department can be reached at 291-2332 or orangecountygov.com/health.