BINGHAMTON (WBNG) — With the weather warming up, ticks are starting to thaw out.
Ticks are active anytime the weather is above freezing, roughly 32 degrees and above.
Broome County Health Department Director of Environmental Health Joshua Phelps suggests that anytime you are outdoors, try to avoid tall grass and brush.
He also says it is ideal to take a shower within two hours of being outdoors and do a full body tick check when you are in the shower.
Ticks will go anywhere you sweat and where the blood is closest to the surface of the skin. Key areas to check are your armpits, center of the back, behind the knees and near your waist.
For an extra precaution you can throw your clothing into the dryer on high heat for 20 minutes when you go inside, which Phelps says will kill whatever ticks are on your clothes.
“Use some sort of repellent when you’re out,” Phelps says. “There’s different levels. You can use oil of lemon eucalyptus. Its a botanical product that you can get locally. There’s also deet products, we recommend 20 percent deet or 30 percent. You really don’t want to go much above 30 percent and you can actually treat your clothes with permethrin and that will kill any ticks that come in contact.”
If you have been bitten by a tick, Phelps says to use a fine-tip set of tweezers and gently stand the tick up so you can see where it is attached. Grip it firmly, but don’t crush it, and grab it as close to the skin as possible and pull it straight off.
Once you get the tick off, clean up the bite site with some soap and water, peroxide, or alcohol. You can also apply a triple antibiotic with a band aid on top.
If you are not comfortable with removing a tick or if you lack the proper tools, you can head to a walk-in clinic and get it removed professionally.
After you have been bitten by a tick, monitor the bite site for the next month or so for symptoms of Lyme disease.
Symptoms of Lyme are general flu-like symptoms, for example being lethargic, joint pain, not wanting to get out of bed. You may or may not have a bullseye rash, roughly 50-60 percent of people that contract Lyme will actually get the bulls eye.
The bulls eye rash will be larger than two inches, warm to the touch and expanding as time goes on.
On top of Lyme disease ticks can also transfer Antiplasmosis and Babesiosis, which are both rare diseases in Broome County, but they do exist in New York State.
Tick removal kits will be provided to the local clerks offices and are free of charge. You can also stop by the Broome County Health Department at 225 Front Street in Binghamton.