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> Lyme Disease On the Increase in Tompkins County

 N E W S   R E L E A S E 

Your Partner for a Healthy Community
Frank Kruppa — Public Health Director


Thursday, June 30, 2011

For more information contact:
Karen Bishop at (607) 274-6604 or Theresa Lyczko at (607) 274-6714


Lyme Disease on the Increase in Tompkins County

June 30, 2011 (Ithaca, NY) – The number of Lyme Disease cases has steadily increased in Tompkins County since 2006 the Tompkins County Health Department reports. Karen Bishop, Community Health Nurse Supervisor noted that in 2006 there were 2 cases; in 2010 there were 70 with a steady increase in the interim. “In the past, Tompkins County residents who had Lyme Disease usually acquired it while traveling in other areas of the state or country. Now most of the cases are locally acquired,” she said. In 2011 to date there have been 14 cases of Lyme Disease and 28 are probable cases pending confirmation. “That is a serious increase,” Mrs. Bishop noted. “Lyme Disease is here and everyone should take the necessary precautions to prevent it.”

Tick-borne diseases are a serious health threat. Lyme disease may affect the skin, nervous system, heart and joints.  If not treated early, it can have permanent and severe health effects.

“Lyme disease is caused by the bite of an infected deer tick. In some areas, any contact with plants or bushes, even in the backyard, has the risk of contact with ticks,” Mrs. Bishop said.

She urged all Tompkins County residents to remember:

  • When in wooded and grassy areas, wear light-colored clothing and tuck pants into socks and shirts into pants.
  • After every two to three hours outdoors, check for ticks on clothing or skin. Brush off any ticks on clothing before they can attach to your skin.
  • Do a thorough check of your body at the end of the day.  Pay close attention to the back of the knees, behind the ears, scalp, arm pits and back. Check your children and pets, too.
  • If you remove an attached tick within 36 hours, the risk of infection is small. To remove a tick: Use tweezers, grasping the tick near the mouthparts, as close to the skin as possible. Don’t squeeze, crush or puncture the body of the tick, which may contain infectious fluids. Pull the tick in a steady, upward motion away from the skin. After removing the tick, disinfect the bite site with soap, rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. Wash your hands carefully. Record the date and location of the tick bite. If a rash appears or you experience flu-like symptoms over the next 30 days, contact your health care provider immediately. As of July 1, the New York State Health Department is no longer providing a tick identification service.
  • If you consider using repellents be sure to follow label directions.  Do not allow children to apply repellents themselves.  Use only small amounts of repellent on children.

To learn more about Lyme disease, call the Tompkins County Health Department at (607) 274-6604 or visit the Department’s website: You’ll see what a tick looks like and how to remove it.