Tick index to prevent lyme disease

July 14, 2008 3:46:23 PM PDT
There are several kinds of ticks but only one called the black-legged tick or the deer tick can carry the agent that causes lyme disease. They can be in your backyard and found in wooded areas. If you're bitten by an infected tick you run the risk of contracting lyme disease.

Now a tick index will chart tick activity in the lower Hudson Valley and help people gauge their risk when planning their outdoor activities.

"We're at peak time right now and if your going to be outdoors it may be a good idea to wait a week or two when it's a 7 or 8," said Dr. Thomas Daniels.

With 10 being the highest index and 1 the lowest, Dr. Daniels, an associate research scientist at Fordam University's biological field station in Armonk helped develop the levels to inform people when the tick population is at its highest. He and his team collect data two to three times a week and provide the information on Fordam University's website. CLICK HERE to view the tick index.

"It's gratifying to know all the research we've done for years be translated into something used for public health reasons," adds Dr. Daniels.

Dr. Daniels has been collecting tick data for more than 20-years and says the threat of lyme disease is highest during the month of July.

Dr. Daniels adds, "The ticks are very very small. It's easy to miss them."

In 1975 lyme disease was first reported in the U.S. in the town of Old Lyme, Connecticut.

Cases have now been reported nationwide but Dr. Gary Wormser, Chief of Infectious Diseases at New York Medical College and the Westchester Medical Center says New York has the highest number of lyme disease cases in the country.

"If you find a tick remove it as quickly as possible becasue there is a delay between tick bite and transmission of agents," says Dr. Wormser.

Dr. Daniels says, "If your gonna go out if you can stand it. Wear clothing that covers as much of your body as possible and tuck your shirt into your pants."

STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Thalia Patillo