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Ticks Remaining Active Amid Warmer Than Average Fall Temps, State Warns

State issues fall tick advisory while confirming a case of the deadly Powassan virus in the Hudson Valley.
State issues fall tick advisory while confirming a case of the deadly Powassan virus in the Hudson Valley. Photo Credit: Contributed

Disease-carrying ticks are remaining active this fall amid above-average temperatures, according to the New York State Department of Health.

The advisory comes as the department reported late Friday that a case of the deadly Powassan virus had been confirmed in Dutchess County.

Powassan, known as "POW," is named after Ontario, Canada town where it was identified in a young boy who eventually died from the virus.

Over the summer, a man died after contracting the Powassan virus from a tick in Saratoga County. Two other Saratoga residents were later diagnosed with the virus. The confirmation of the disease in Dutchess is now the fourth in New York State this year. There have been only 27 confirmed cases of the disease in New York since 2000.

The state health department is underscoring the importance of protecting against ticks and tick-borne illnesses while participating in fall outdoor activities.

Ticks remain active until the temperature drops below 40 or 45 degrees, so it's important to take precautions and check yourself for ticks even as the weather cools down, the department said.

Best practices to protect yourself from ticks and tick-borne illness include:

  • Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily, as well as enclosed shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants.
  • Check clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks while outdoors.
  • Consider using insect repellent.More information on repellent products is available here.
  • Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails. Walk in the center of trails. Avoid dense woods and bushy areas.
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after going indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that may be on you.
  • Do a final, full-body tick check at the end of the day (also check children and pets), and remove ticks promptly.

The Department of Health and its partners routinely collect and analyze ticks from across the state in order to better understand the tick population, tick behavior and regional trends in diseases carried by ticks. Current and retrospective tick collection and testing results will also be posted on the Department's Health Data NY site by the start of tick season in 2018.

The Department is also collaborating with the Department of Environmental Conservation to include tick-borne disease informational materials in hunter education and licensure programs; working with the State Education Department to implement new legislation requiring instructional materials for school districts and libraries to provide information about tick-borne disease; and planning to release a tick-borne disease surveillance and response plan, similar to the plan in place for mosquito-borne diseases, in 2018.

For more information about Powassan virus, Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses, visit: health.ny.gov/tickfree .

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