With temperatures like Tuesday's 56 degrees, pre-holiday shopping and chores are a breeze.
However, unseasonably warm December weather brings with it an unexpected hazard — ticks.
The Rockland County Department of Health is receiving calls from residents who have just recently been bitten by ticks, and the agency is cautioning residents to remember the risk of Lyme disease is present even in the late fall and the winter months.
Ticks can become active when temperatures rise above 40 degrees and the ground is not completely covered with snow. On these warmer winter days, the Health Department says it is important to use protective measures to reduce tick exposure and your chances of getting a tick bite and Lyme disease.
Rockland County Commissioner of Health Dr. Joan H. Facelle urges all county residents to follow these three simple steps to reduce your exposure to deer ticks while enjoying outdoor activities:
1. Conduct a daily tick check of yourself, your children and your pets.
- Before coming inside, check your clothing for loose ticks and brush them off.
- When inside, check your skin for ticks. Do a body check and pay particular attention to: the back of knees, behind and in the ears, neck and scalp, hair, armpits, chest, back, waist and groin area.
- Remove any ticks as soon as possible, using the *correct procedure to reduce chances of infection.
- Check your pets for ticks and use veterinarian recommended tick-control products.
2. When outdoors, dress to protect.
- Wear light colored clothing.
- Wear a long sleeved shirt or jacket and long pants.
- Tuck shirts into pants and pant legs into socks or into boots.
- Tie long hair back into an elastic band or wear a hat.
- Consider the use of an insect repellent on your clothing. (Follow label instructions before repellent use. Check with your pediatrician before using them on children.)
3. *Properly remove all ticks immediately.
- Grasp the tick’s mouthparts, where the tick enters the skin, with fine point tweezers. Pull firmly in a steady upward direction until the tick releases it’s hold. Do not squeeze, crush or put a hole in the tick’s body. (Never apply kerosene, matches or petroleum jelly to remove a tick!)
- Wash the area with soap and water and clean the area with an antiseptic.
- Record date and location of tick bite.
- Observe for symptoms of Lyme disease, which may, for some, develop within 30 days of a tick bite.
Symptoms can include: a rash (called a “bull’s eye”), flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, headache, low grade fever, swollen glands, neck stiffness, and pain or stiffness of muscles or joints.
- If you remove an attached tick and symptoms occur or you feel ill, contact your doctor.
- If desired, save the tick in a plastic bag and call Cornell Cooperative Extension at 845-429-7085 to find out about tick identification.
For more information or to request a Lyme disease educational packet, contact the Lyme Disease Education Program at 845-364-2501. Information on Lyme disease is also available on the Health Department web site at www.rocklandgov.com/health.