Tick-borne illnesses on the rise in St. Lawrence County

Published: May. 19, 2023 at 4:10 PM EDT
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CANTON, New York (WWNY) - Ticks can make you sick and in St. Lawrence County, there’s more reason to worry.

“So far this year, we’ve had 148 tick-borne illnesses and that’s just what’s laboratory confirmed. So there are more out there, they just have not been reported to us,” said Jolene Munger, director of the St. Lawrence County Department of Public Health.

The cases are from January to April 30 of this year.

But it’s the previous years’ data that show that ticks are causing trouble for people in the county. In 2018, there were 70 cases of tick-borne illnesses. In 2022, that number jumped to 336.

Tick-borne illnesses
Tick-borne illnesses(WWNY)

“We’re seeing that increase over the last several years so it’s something we need to be a little more vigilant on when we are enjoying the outdoors and just even being out in our own backyards,” said Maureen Ring, 4-H Program educator.

Mild winters aren’t good when controlling the tick population and the arachnids become active even at cool temperatures.

“A lot of people think if it’s still kind of cool out, they don’t have to worry about the ticks. But actually, they are active once the temperature reaches around 40 degrees Fahrenheit,” said Ring.

If you’re walking on a nice day in the woods or in the park, there might be a tick on you right now. The only reason you don’t notice them is because they are very, very small. Ticks are known for being as small as sesame seeds.

Even at that size, they can transfer illnesses such as Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and babesiosis to you or your pets.

“Just because you live in town, do not assume that you are not going to have ticks, because we have the vegetation, and we have a lot of deer and wild animals that come in and when your pets go outside, they can pick up the tick and bring it in. So even if you are not actively outdoors, but you have pets, that can do it too,” said Munger.

Munger says prevention includes staying away from tall grass and cool shady areas, and wearing bright colors so you can see the ticks.