How to protect your family against ticks

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month
Posted at 11:45 PM, May 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-23 11:05:05-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — As the weather gets warmer, more Western New Yorkers are spending time outdoors. Ticks are not just in wooded areas, but can be found in local parks, soccer fields, and yards, according to Rebecca Roll, Chair of Lyme WNY.

“If you get bit by a tick in Erie County, there’s a 50-50 chance that that tick is carrying not only Lyme Disease, but other bacteria,” Roll said.

Lyme Disease starts with a tick bite, but the diagnosis is not always that simple, according to Roll.

“I’ve met you know thousands and thousands of Lyme patients, I would say a handful of them recall a tick bite,” Roll said.

Roll said people who get a bullseye rash are fortunate, other symptoms like headaches, fatigue, and memory loss can go misdiagnosed and sometimes become a long-term illness.

“People walk around not just months, people walk around for decades with Lyme Disease, it’s terrifying,” Roll said.

If caught early, Lyme Disease can be treated with antibiotics.

The CDC said the best way to remove a tick is with fine-tipped tweezers, by pinching the tick close to the skin an pulling straight up. It is important no to twist it, that might rip the body off with the head still biting you. Make sure to clean the bite mark, and your hands, with either rubbing alcohol or soap and water.

Prevention comes first, roll said use tick sprays like Ranger Ready, check yourself and children, and spray your yard.

When it comes to preventative measures for your family's furry friends, there's one tool that's not available to humans, a Lyme Disease vaccine.

"For those dogs that spend time off of concrete, or off of mowed grass, those dogs should be on tick protection and be vaccinated," said Ellicott Street Animal Hospital Director R. Reed Stevens. "If you are protected with a product like Simparica TRIO or Bravecto and vaccinated, the company actually, the pharmaceutical company that makes those products will pay us to treat your dog."

Stevens said the products are almost like Lyme Disease treatment insurance. He said all dogs should be tested annually for tick borne diseases.

He said symptoms to look out for are lethargy and lameness in legs.

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Next month, Lyme WNY will be holding its first support meeting since the pandemic began.