HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. Spring has barely sprung 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.
We had ticks well into the winter, we were still seeing ticks getting pulled off and we were also seeing ticks earlier than we typically have, said Dr. Katherine Hough, a pediatrician at Pediatrics on Hudson in Hastings.
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.
And, the CDC says that in 2010, 94 percent of Lyme disease cases were reported from 12 states, Connecticut and New York among them.
In fact, 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.
Symptoms include persistent fever, joint pain that is significant in the child, swollen or enlarged joint, most typically the knee, really unexplained headaches and not the little headache that goes away, but really something significant, Hough said. So its not the vague symptoms that youre looking for, we tend to see much more specific things in Lyme disease. 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.
Hough said if you spot a bulls eye rash after pulling a tick off of you or your childs body then its time to have a doctor examine it.
Precautions are key and local recreation departments have instructed their counselors on how to spot trouble signs when outside with kids.
We just tell our counselors during orientation what to look for as far as ticks on the kids and to bring them into the nurses for an evaluation afterwards, said Hastings Recreation Assistant Lisa OReilly.
Hough said precautions are the best way to prevent Lyme disease by checking yourself and your children everyday even if you havent been in wooded areas.
Using insect repellant can be helpful so thats the main thing and if youre going in wooded areas wearing long sleeves, long pants, trying to cover the exposed areas of your body, Hough said.
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