Friday, 05 July 2019 13:04

OP ED: Protecting from Lyme Disease

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OP ED: Protecting from Lyme Disease Supplied photo

As we spend more time outdoors with the warmer weather, it is important to take proper precautions to ensure protection from Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne illness in the nation and is most often contracted in the spring and summer months. Each year, approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease nationally are reported to the Center of Disease Control (CDC) by state health departments. Fourteen states including New York are responsible for 96% of the reported cases. In addition, health experts estimate that the total number of untreated or unreported cases may exceed 300,000.

Lyme disease is spread through the bite of blacklegged ticks, or as many call them in New York, deer ticks. There are numerous symptoms including fever, headache, fatigue, facial paralysis and a ‘bulls-eye’ shaped rash around the bite location. In the event that you or someone you know has been bitten by a tick or feel any of these symptoms, people are encouraged to contact a medical provider immediately. Without treatment, Lyme disease can lead to an array of serious problems like severe pain, arthritis, heart palpitations and other serious conditions. Medication is prescribed for those who test positively for Lyme disease or show tell-tale signs. Individuals who have had Lyme disease report that additional medication may be needed to properly eradicate the disease so it is important to monitor your health and keep in touch with your doctor after taking the first dose of medication.

In order to avoid Lyme or other tick-borne illness, people should stay clear of wooded and brushy areas with tall grass. For those who regularly spend time outdoors hiking or camping, it’s important to walk in the center of the trail and to keep as much skin covered as possible. Light-colored long sleeves, pants, and socks are recommended. Additionally, a bug spray containing DEET is also recommended. After spending time outdoors, always be sure to check yourself, your family and pets for ticks, and if you do find a tick on yourself, it is important to remove it properly. For more information on Lyme disease, including symptoms, treatment methods, proper removal of ticks, and educational materials, visit the CDC website. A diagram on how to properly remove the tick can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/removing_a_tick.html

In the 2019 Legislative Session, I advocated for legislation to spread awareness about Lyme disease and called for additional funding to help battle tick-borne illnesses. I was pleased to support Assembly Bill (A.6752), which requires all state-managed parks to install Lyme and tick-borne warning signs at trail entryways and campgrounds. I also supported Assembly Bill (A.6146), directing the Department of Financial Services in consultation with the commissioner of health to study insurance coverage for the treatment of Lyme disease.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this or any other state issue, please contact me. My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185. You can also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.

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