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Experts urge vigilance in fighting tick bites in central New York

Fairfax County
Experts ask Central New Yorkers to be on the lookout for ticks

As the weather warms up and Memorial Day weekend approaches, forestry experts are asking all Central New Yorkers to be vigilant about preventing tick bites.

During a virtual workshop held by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County, experts said ticks are out now, ready to “quest,” or attach themselves to a human or animal host. The education effort is part of the “Don’t Get Ticked New York”campaign. The main message: the best way to avoid getting Lyme disease is to avoid getting bitten by a tick in the first place.

Forestry program specialist Kristina Ferrare said this may be a bad tick year due to the mild winter we’ve had, but she said whether it is or not, people in our area should never stop being on the lookout.

"My advice is to always act like it's a bad tick year, always assume that there's a risk to interact with ticks on the landscape," said Ferrare.

Ferrare says to prevent tick bites, wear long pants tucked into socks. Heavier, lighter colored fabric is better. Frequently check your clothes because ticks can be as small as a sesame seed. She also recommends using repellents or treating your clothing ahead of time with permethrin spray.

If you do get a tick on your skin, use micro tweezers to get rid of it as soon as possible. 

"Micro tweezers have a very sharp point,” said Ferrare. “They do enable you to get right to the skin surface, right to the mouth part and pull that tick off with upward, steady pressure without twisting it, until it lets go."

Ferrare said while there are efforts to control the tick population underway, she doesn’t think the risk will ever go away completely.

“Ticks are part of our landscape now, and they’re part of our lives, so if we like to be outside and enjoy all of what the outdoors has to offer, we need to be prepared to protect ourselves,” said Ferrare.

She adds if you have any concerns a tick may have gotten you sick, reach out to your doctor right away.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.