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Health Alert: Check for Ticks, Prevent Lyme Disease & Other Illnesses

(Ithaca, N.Y., June 02, 2023) – Tompkins County Whole Health (TCWH) is alerting the community to be aware of the dangers of contracting Lyme Disease and other illnesses as a result of bites from ticks. Ticks have been reported to transmit over 7 different illnesses which can affect people of any age.

Lyme disease is an infection caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi and is spread to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks (or deer ticks). Because Lyme disease is caused by bacteria, re-infection can occur with any bite from an infected tick. While not all deer ticks are infected with the bacteria, Lyme disease is the most prevalent tick-borne disease in New York and has been reportable since 1986. A vaccine for Lyme disease is not currently available.

The tick life cycle generally lasts two years. During this time, ticks go through four life stages: egg, six-legged larva, eight-legged nymph, and adult. The nymphs are most active in early spring and are the size of a poppy seed or freckle. They can still transmit disease if they bite, so it is important to be vigilant with daily full body tick checks, including in body crevices such as armpits, behind the knees, and around genitalia.

Generally, ticks cannot jump or fly onto a person. They wait in vegetation and cling to animals and humans when they brush by. When spending time outdoors, take special care to prevent tick bites by following the “ABCD method”:

  • AVOID: If you can, avoid areas where ticks may be present. If you cannot avoid, be sure to follow the following steps carefully.
  • BUG SPRAY: Use tick repellant on clothing and skin that contains 20%-30% DEET. Apply as directed and avoid eyes or mouth. Assist children with applying insect repellent. Treat your clothing, tents and other camping gear with permethrin. Be sure to follow instructions from the manufacturer.
  • CHECK FOR TICKS: Perform regular checks for ticks whenever you have been outdoors and do an additional full-body scan at the end of the day. Assist your family members with checking themselves and be sure to check your pets too!
  • DRESS FOR PREVENTION: Wear light colored clothing so that ticks are easy to spot. Tuck shirts into pants and tuck pants into socks.

If removal of attached ticks occurs promptly, the risk of tick-borne infection is minimal. For reducing the risk of Lyme disease, ticks must be removed before 36 hours have passed, however, other tick-borne diseases can be transmitted within just a few hours. Checking frequently and removing as soon as possible is essential for reducing risk of disease. The New York State Dept. of Health has created a video on proper tick removal and a printable card with steps on how to remove ticks.

  • Grasp the mouthparts with tweezers as close as possible to the attachment (skin) site. Be careful not to squeeze, crush or puncture the body of the tick, which may contain infectious fluids.
  • Pull firmly and steadily upward to remove the tick.
  • After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash hands.
  • See or call a doctor if there are concerns about incomplete tick removal.
  • Do not attempt to remove ticks by using petroleum jelly, lit cigarettes or other home remedies because these may actually increase the chance of contracting a tick-borne disease.
  • If the tick has potentially been on for more than 36 hours, contact your healthcare provider for treatment. Most tick-borne diseases, including Lyme disease, can be successfully treated with antibiotics especially if treatment is started early.
  • If you experience fever, chills, body aches and pains, flu like symptoms, facial paralysis or rash after being outdoors, contact your health care provider.

Whole Health Medical Director Dr. William Klepack stated, “With the warmer weather, people are more likely to encounter ticks, as they live in our lawns as well as our parks and forests. Lyme disease is a very serious and debilitating illness that can be prevented by taking proper preventative steps. Check yourself and your family members (pets too) for ticks after being outdoors and seek medical treatment if a bite occurs.” Listen to Dr. Klepack’s interview with WHCU on May 31, 2023, where ticks are discussed in additional detail.

If you have a tick bite and need to begin treatment, contact your healthcare provider directly. TCWH can assist with your questions about ticks and Lyme disease by calling our Community Health nurses at: 607-274-6604. Tick information kits and removal tools can be requested through our Healthy Neighborhoods Program (HNP) by contacting Ambra Munlyn, Health Educator, for more information: or call 607-274-6710.

Please visit our website at to learn more about ticks, including helpful pictures for tick identification and videos on proper tick removal.

Tompkins County Whole Health (formerly the Tompkins County Health Department) envisions a future where every person in Tompkins County can achieve wellness. Find us online at, and follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter at @TCWholeHealth. Get Whole Health updates or other county announcements via email or text, sign up here.

Media contact: Shannon Alvord,