GOSHEN – As spring brings warmer weather, residents will begin venturing outdoors again. For those of us in the Hudson Valley, this can also mean the chance of exposure to deer ticks and the diseases they can transmit.
Lyme disease continues to be the most common tick-borne disease in the region and a focus of many public health awareness efforts. Unfortunately, over the past decade the region has also begun seeing other, potentially more serious, tick-borne illnesses, including babesiosis and anaplasmosis (formerly known as ehrlichiosis) that have started taking hold in the Hudson Valley.
While the numbers are still relatively small compared to the incidence of Lyme disease, both babesiosis and anaplasmosis can present with high fevers and symptoms which can easily be confused with other severe illnesses. Fortunately, all of these illnesses respond to the appropriate choice of antibiotics, so diagnosis as early as possible is key.
"Avoiding a tick bite in the first place is the best line of defense and critical to the prevention of Lyme and other tick borne diseases," said Dr. Jean M. Hudson, Orange County Commissioner of Health. "After spending time outdoors, it’s important to do a thorough tick check of yourself, your children, and your pets."
To prevent tick attachment, remember these important tips:
• Check yourself frequently when spending time outdoors. Do a thorough tick check daily, especially checking around the face and scalp, neck, chest, armpit, waistband, groin area, and behind the knee.
• Avoid high-risk locations, such as the edge of wooded areas, and shady or moist habitats.
• Use repellent containing DEET.
• Wear light colored clothing - it makes spotting ticks easier.
• Stay in the middle of the path when hiking through woods or grass.
• Create an area for children and pets to play away from wooded areas, stonewalls, and woodpiles.
• Keep the yard clear of leaf litter, brush, and similar debris as these create areas where ticks like to hide.
• Trim bushes and mow fields – ticks don’t like direct sunlight.
• Avoid stone walls.
Take the proper precautions and you truly can enjoy the many opportunities to spend time in Orange County and the Hudson Valley.