Onset of warmer weather brings risk of Lyme disease, but ticks may be harder to detect

May 11, 2015
Originally published on May 11, 2015 7:24 am

Now that warmer weather appears to be here for good, central and northern New Yorkers need to be aware of Lyme disease. The disease, carried by deer ticks, is endemic to the area, and can have a devastating effect.

Lyme disease changed the life of of Baldwinsville resident Kathy Wallace. The former hairdresser, says it took a couple of years before a physician from Rhinebeck, in the Hudson Valley, first mentioned Lyme as a reason for an array of symptoms she was experiences, ranging from fatigue to aching joints.

Because of chemical sensitivities brought on by Lyme, Wallace has had to shut down her beauty salon.

“Building for sale, it’s been for sale for quite a while,” said Wallace. “This is also my home, so here I am starting from scratch with no business, no home and no help.”

Wallace says she doesn’t know where or when she got bit by a tick. She never had the most well-known symptom of Lyme disease -- a bulls-eye rash around a tick bite.  

Onondaga County Health Department Medical Director, Dr. Quoc Nguyen says the challenge this time of year in identifying Lyme is that the deer ticks that can carry the disease are nymphs. 

"The ticks, the nymph, are harder to find, because they are so small. And they come out in early spring, when the weather’s good, and you want to go out right away, and so they’re tiny and hard to find.”

Nguyen says a quarter of nymph ticks in central New York carry the Lyme bacterium. To avoid it, the Onondaga County Health Department recommends creating an environment ticks don’t like, by clearing brush away from homes, and keeping grass cut. And when individuals do go into the woods, apply insect repellent and do full body checks for ticks after going into the woods. Removing ticks within 36 hours will likely prevent Lyme disease.

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