Spring and summer brings more Central New Yorkers outdoors and a greater risk of getting tick bites which carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Prevention efforts and identifying the symptoms and visual cues of tick bites are essential. Ticks are not born with Lyme disease; however, they pick it up from animals such as deer and mice. SUNY ESF Assistant Professor Dr. Bryan Lydet says some of the symptoms to watch-out for are rashes, facial paralysis, and severe arthritis in the knee.
“What happens is when an infected tick bites the person, the bacterium goes into the skin, spreads out into the blood stream, and then goes into distal tissues and organs like the knees, the heart, and other areas. At first, what people get is just a flu like symptom from your immune system trying to clear the bacteria - to attack the bacteria.”
He adds that antibiotics treat Lyme disease and it’s essential to get it diagnosed and treated quickly. Lydet says in the worst case scenarios, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease can make its way to the heart and can be lethal.
“And there are some recent cases of young, healthy, male track stars succumbing to infection or dying because when these spirochetes get into your heart they can mess with your electro connectivity of the heart and you can have a very severe event and just have a cardiac arrest.”
Dr. Lydet reveals the best way for people to prevent getting bitten is to be aware of ticks and look on your body.
“Tick checks. When you get home, even if you’ve been really great at looking at your legs, wearing permethrin, check for ticks. Check areas behind your knees. Check in your armpits, your waste region, your groin, your hair. Look on your back in the mirror. Lyme disease does take between 24 to 36 hours to be transmitted so if you can get that tick off early you’re less likely to get the disease.”
Lydet is also an Adjunct Instructor at Upstate Medical University. He suggests wearing long pants and socks outside to safeguard yourself from ticks climbing up your body. He also advises to purchase tick repellent.