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Experts say kids should avoid jumping into piles of leaves because of risk of tick-borne diseases

Fairfax County

Now that summer is over, it doesn’t mean tick season is over. Experts say it’s as important as ever this time of year to guard against the insects that can carry Lyme and other diseases.

Upstate Medical University infectious disease specialist Kristopher Paolino said he remembers jumping in piles of leaves every fall when he was a kid.

"I was joking around with my wife thinking about when I was growing up, and we’d rake all the leaves together in a big pile and all the neighborhood kids would just dive into it. I personally don’t let my kids do that anymore because the leaf litter is where the ticks live," he said.

Paolino said ticks move into the leaf litter in autumn, finding a safe micro ecosystem where they can survive. And the problem is, even though they are the bigger adult bugs this time of year, they can still spread illnesses like Lyme Disease. Paolino suggests passing on fun in the leaves, and instead going back to a spring and summer anti-tick regimen during fall yard clean up.

"Treating your clothes with Permethrin. Another thing people should do outdoors is use DEET on skin. I usually recommend something with 25 percent of DEET or more," he said.

Paolino also recommends that if an individual finds a tick on their skin to pull it off, put it in a plastic bag and freeze it. That will kill the tick and preserve it for testing if symptoms of Lyme Disease or other diseases develop.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.