OSWEGO — Oswego County residents are encouraged to participate in a research study to measure community awareness of Lyme and tick-borne diseases. The study is being conducted by the CNY Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Alliance and Research & Marketing Strategies, a Syracuse-area market research group.
“We have partnered with the CNY Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Alliance to assist them with gathering community feedback regarding awareness and knowledge of Lyme and tick-borne diseases,” said Bonni Nelson, a researcher with RMS. “We are about to head into the summer months when tick activity increases significantly, so this research is very important to the community.” People can take the short online survey at http://www.RMSresults.com/TICK.
Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang said ticks harbor and transmit various pathogens, including viruses and bacteria, to humans and animals.
“Lyme disease is a bacterial disease transmitted through the saliva of an infected deer tick,” he said. “In Oswego County, the number of confirmed Lyme disease cases among residents increased from 34 in 2012 to 249 in 2019.”
It takes up to 72 hours for a tick to transmit the bacteria to its host. Early signs of Lyme disease may include rash, fever, muscle aches, headaches and fatigue. As the disease progresses, multiple systems can be involved, and patients can suffer chronic pain, neurological impairments, and other severe symptoms.
Common habitats for the deer tick are leaf litter in wooded areas, grassy areas along wooded edges, and low bushes and shrubs. Deer ticks are not commonly found on athletic fields and cut lawns.
Ticks transmit Lyme disease in two of their life stages: nymph (the immature) and adult. Nymphs, active in spring and summer, are about the size of a poppy seed, and difficult to see. Adult ticks, active in late summer and fall are much larger and are more likely to be discovered.
Huang said people should check carefully for ticks whenever they’ve been outdoors.
If people find a tick attached, use tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible, then perpendicularly pull away from the skin and wash the area with soap and apply topical antiseptic.
The state Department of Health has posted a video on how to remove a tick on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGrK4ZKUfhQ.
For more Lyme disease resources, visit the Oswego County Health Department’s website at https://health.oswegocounty.com/information/lyme_disease.php.