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Ticks Make an Early Entrance in Pelham This Year

Spring has barely sprung in Pelham but summer is in the air, which means ticks are in the grass. And the bushes. And the woods.

The unusually warm – and seemingly brief – winter means that along with daffodils and lilacs, ticks will be making an early appearance this year.

“Because it’s a warmer winter, I would say it’s been known that they’re more prevalent sooner than what they normally would be than in a cold winter,” said James Paul, a worker at Klein Pharmacy.

However, cold winters do not contribute to a reduction in insect population.

There are more cases of Lyme disease reported than any other vector-borne illness in the United States. Cases of tick-borne disease have been steadily rising here, tripling from 10,000 reported cases in 1992 to around 30,000 in 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There have been no reported Lyme disease cases at the pharmacy, according to Paul.

“No, not really,” Paul said of people buying tick repellants or coming in with Lyme disease. “The repellants we would have would be more for the mosquitoes.”

The CDC said that in 2010, 94 percent of Lyme disease cases were reported from 12 states, Connecticut and New York among them.

More than a dozen illnesses are transmitted by ticks in the United States. Far less common than Lyme disease but also carried by the diminutive deer tick , Babesiosis is caused by an infection from the parasite Babesia microti. It thrives in red blood cells and, for those with compromised immune systems, can be fatal.

Most cases of Lyme disease happen in the late spring and summer when young ticks are active and people are spending more time outdoors. The disease is most common in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and North Central states, which account for nearly 95 percent of reported cases.

Paul pointed out that the Pelham community is not an ideal location for ticks.

“People aren’t tracing around where the ticks would be,” Paul said. He added that Jones Beach and the woods, especially because of the deer population, are two places where you would find the tiny insects.

To avoid Lyme disease the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has the following suggestions:

  • Know where you'll find ticks, which live in moist and humid environments, in or near wooded or grassy areas. You can come into contact with them during outdoor activities around your home or when walking through vegetation such as leaf litter or shrubs. To avoid ticks, walk in the center of trails.
  • Use an insect repellent on skin or clothing with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamideor) and permethrin on clothing and gear. Products with permethrin, which remains protective through several washings, can be used to treat boots and clothing. Repellents containing 20 percent or more DEET can be applied to the skin and they can protect up to several hours. Parents should apply repellents to their children and should take care to avoid hands, eyes and mouth.
  • Check your body for ticks after being outdoors, even if only briefly and in your own yard. When you've left a potentially tick-infested area, search your entire body for ticks. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body and remove any ticks you find. Take special care to check these parts of your child's and your body for ticks:
  • Under the arms
  • In and around the ears.
  • Inside the belly button.
  • Back of the knees.
  • In and around all head and body hair.
  • Between the legs.
  • Around the waist.
  • Ticks can be carried into the house on clothing and pets so both should be examined carefully. Placing clothes into a dryer on high heat effectively kills ticks.

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