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Many species of ticks live and flourish in the woods and fields of upstate New York. In the warm weather ticks and humans are apt to bump into each other on a path or lawn. More annoying than finding a tick crawling up your pant leg is finding one firmly embedded in your skin.

Tick removal is simple and straightforward. It is important to avoid "upsetting" the tick as well as the human to which it is attached. To this end do NOT use alcohol, Vaseline, gasoline, nail polish, nail polish remover or above all, a match. Simply grasp the tick with tweezers as close to the skin as possible; pull gently and steadily until the tick comes out. Wash the area with soap and water. Redness at the site should resolve in a few days. If "tick parts" are left behind, signs of a skin infection might develop (redness, warmth, pain, etc.). If this occurs, call your doctor.

The ticks in our "neck of the woods" that cause human sickness are the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), the black-legged deer tick (Ixodes scapularis), and the Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum). The dog tick can transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF); the deer tick is associated with babesiosis, anaplasmosis and Lyme disease; and the Lone Star tick with human monocytic ehrlichiosis (HME) and southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI). Additionally, many varieties of ticks (including dog ticks and Lone Star ticks) can cause tick paralysis.

For more information on diseases caused by ticks: Click here
For information on tick bite prevention: Click here
Tick removal 101: Click here


Prevent Tick Bites!

This would not be a Public Health article, without a prevention message. To prevent exposure to ticks and the diseases they carry:

  • Walk on cleared trails (avoid brush, tall grass and leaf litter)
  • Minimize exposed skin (tuck in pant legs to socks)
  • Wear light colored clothing (easier to see dark ticks)
  • Check yourself, your loved ones, and your pets for ticks after being outdoors
  • Shower soon after being outdoors
  • Wear tick repellent
  • Create a "tick-free zone" around your home
  • Discourage deer from entering your yard
(Updated 3/14/18)