Lyme disease on the uptick in upstate New York

July 26, 2013

Why are Lyme disease-carrying deer tick populations growing in central New York?

"The reason for increasing tick populations and concomitant infections is likely complex," said Laura C. Harrington, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology at Cornell. "Recent trends with less extreme sustained cold temperatures in the winter may lead to greater overwintering survival of ticks. Higher populations or infection rates in key Lyme bacteria reservoirs, such as the white-footed mouse, also may be responsible. Even factors such as increased awareness and by physicians and veterinarians may play a role."

Harrington said in all of New York state in 2010 and 2011, there were 2,385 and 3,118 reported cases of Lyme disease, respectively, compared with the annual state average of 4,560 cases. But in some regions, such as central and northwestern New York state, Lyme disease cases are increasing.

"Populations of Ixodes scapularis – commonly known as the 'black-legged tick' or '' – appear to be increasing in central New York," Harrington said. "Increases in laboratory-confirmed Lyme disease cases in both humans and dogs also have been noted in our region."

In 2011, the most recent year for which data are available, there were 145 cases of Lyme disease in Tompkins County residents, compared with only eight in 2007. But by 2012, there were 338 confirmed cases in Tompkins County dogs.

"Ticks are hard to avoid, especially for those who are active outdoors and want to enjoy the summer weather," Harrington said. She offers these tips to avoid contracting Lyme disease:

  • Know what to look for. Nymphal ticks, which are about the size of a poppy seed or a freckle, are considered the most dangerous because they have already fed once in their larval stage and may already be infectious.
  • Make a habit of checking for ticks daily if you are active outdoors. Ticks don't start transmitting Lyme disease until after they have been attached to for at least 24 hours.
  • Properly remove ticks. Carefully place the tips of a pair of tweezers as close to the base of the skin where the tick is attached with its mouthparts as possible (not the body), and gently pull it out. If the body is squeezed, there is a risk of infecting yourself by pushing Lyme bacteria into the skin. Not all ticks are infected. Save the tick on a piece of tape or in a vial and consult your physician, who may recommend having the tick tested for Lyme bacteria.
  • Use repellent. DEET and picaridin are highly effective repellents against ticks and other biting pests.

Explore further: Black-legged ticks linked to encephalitis in New York state

Related Stories

Black-legged ticks linked to encephalitis in New York state

July 15, 2013
The number of tick-borne illnesses reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is on the rise. Lyme disease leads the pack, with some 35,000 cases reported annually. In the Northeast, the black-legged ...

Large-scale study of preventive antibiotic usage against Lyme disease

April 16, 2013
Today, at the start of the "Tick Week", the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and Wageningen University are commencing a large-scale study to discover whether preventive use of antibiotics can ...

New tick-borne disease discovered

September 20, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Yale School of Public Health researchers in collaboration with Russian scientists have discovered a new tick-borne bacterium that might be causing disease in the United States and elsewhere. Their findings ...

New tick-borne illness may be misdiagnosed

July 1, 2013
(HealthDay)—Physicians say a new kind of tick-borne infection that's similar to Lyme disease can mislead doctors into thinking it's a different condition.

Recommended for you

Google searches can be used to track dengue in underdeveloped countries

July 20, 2017
An analytical tool that combines Google search data with government-provided clinical data can quickly and accurately track dengue fever in less-developed countries, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

New test distinguishes Zika from similar viral infections

July 18, 2017
A new test is the best-to-date in differentiating Zika virus infections from infections caused by similar viruses. The antibody-based assay, developed by researchers at UC Berkeley and Humabs BioMed, a private biotechnology ...

'Superbugs' study reveals complex picture of E. coli bloodstream infections

July 18, 2017
The first large-scale genetic study of Escherichia coli (E. coli) cultured from patients with bloodstream infections in England showed that drug resistant 'superbugs' are not always out-competing other strains. Research by ...

Ebola virus can persist in monkeys that survived disease, even after symptoms disappear

July 17, 2017
Ebola virus infection can be detected in rhesus monkeys that survive the disease and no longer show symptoms, according to research published by Army scientists in today's online edition of the journal Nature Microbiology. ...

Mountain gorillas have herpes virus similar to that found in humans

July 13, 2017
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, have detected a herpes virus in wild mountain gorillas that is very similar to the Epstein-Barr virus in humans, according to a study published today in the journal Scientific ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.