DOH, DEC and State Parks Remind New Yorkers to Protect Against Ticks

Proper Precautions Can Help Prevent Lyme Disease and the Spread of Tick-Borne Illnesses

ALBANY, NY (May 24, 2019) – The New York State Department of Health, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation today reminded New Yorkers, visitors and everyone who enjoys the outdoors of the importance of protecting against ticks and tick-borne illnesses, now that warm weather has arrived.

Since reporting of Lyme disease to the state health department began in 1986, New York State has averaged more than 5,500 new cases each year, with numbers increasing in recent years.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that spreads when an infected black-legged tick (commonly called a deer tick, which is the most common tick in New York) bites a person and remains attached for 36 hours or more. In most cases, an expanding rash resembling a bull's eye or solid patch will appear near the site of the bite. If an expanding rash with a diameter of more than two inches appears or flu-like symptoms occur over a 30-day period following a tick bite, individuals should contact their health care provider immediately.

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "Infected ticks can be found in outdoor areas across New York, and if you are bitten by one, you can suffer serious illness. Prevention remains the most effective method to protect yourself and others from being bitten by an infected tick."

Acting State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases should not keep people from going outside and enjoying the healthful recreation they need. Learning how to protect yourself from ticks can help ensure your outdoor experiences remain rewarding and enjoyable."

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "With the return of warm weather, nature lovers and adventurers of all ages are eager to get out and enjoy all of the amazing outdoor recreational opportunities New York has to offer. Unfortunately, ticks and the real risks to human health they carry are also returning. New York is taking aggressive actions to combat the spread of ticks and tick-borne diseases. Prevention remains the most effective defense to protect against ticks and I urge everyone to follow the Department of Health's 'Tick Prevention Tips' before heading outside."

While hiking, working, or spending time in wooded areas, follow these simple steps to help prevent tick bites:

  • Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts for protection.
  • Check for ticks often while outdoors and brush off any before they attach.
  • Perform a full body check multiple times during the day, as well as at the end of the day, to ensure that no ticks are attached.
  • Consider using repellents containing DEET, picaridin or IR3535, following label instructions.

If you have been bitten by a tick of any kind, contact your health care provider immediately if you develop a rash or flu-like symptoms.

Tick bites can also transmit diseases in addition to Lyme disease. Some of these are less common such as babesiosis and anaplasmosis (averaging 423 and 570 cases annually since 2010, respectively) and others are rare, such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (averaging 27 cases annually since 2010) and Powassan encephalitis (totaling 20 cases since 2010). These diseases vary in their severity, but all can cause serious illness and even death, if untreated.

Last year, the Asian longhorned tick was identified in New York State for the first time, being found in several locations in New York City, Long Island, and the Lower Hudson Valley. While this tick has transmitted disease to humans in other parts of the world, more research is needed to determine whether this can occur in the United States. The Department has tested more than 300 of these ticks and have not found disease-causing agents. Regardless, New Yorkers should continue to take measures to protect themselves, their children and their pets against all ticks and tick-borne diseases that are present in New York State.

The longhorned tick is also a concern for the New York's agricultural industry and may pose a threat to livestock. Farmers should continue to work with their veterinarians to check their animals, particularly cattle, sheep and horses, for exposure to ticks and to ensure their parasite control plans are up to date and working. Symptoms of tick-borne disease in cattle include fever, lack of appetite, dehydration, weakness and labored breathing.

The Department of Health and its partners routinely collect and analyze ticks from across the state to better understand the tick population, tick behavior and regional trends in diseases carried by ticks. Current and retrospective tick collection and testing results are publicly available on the Department's Health Data NY website.

In 2018 the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation developed and instituted an Integrated Tick Management Program to increase public awareness of ticks and tick-borne diseases and reduce the number of human/tick interactions in high-use areas of state parks and historic sites. This program provides information and guidelines and procedures necessary to reduce the risk of tick-borne diseases to park patrons and staff.

The actions taken in individual parks varied based on the potential risk of tick-borne disease and focused on public education, habitat management, and the limited use of eco-friendly tick control treatments in high-use areas. Specific actions taken include:

  • Distributed approximately 1,000 tick warning signs provided by NYS Department of Health to parks and historic sites across the state;
  • Removed overhanging vegetation from high-use trails and their associated trailheads;
  • Expanded the use of four-poster bait stations in parks on Long Island; and
  • Worked with NYS DEC to deploy four-poster bait stations on State land on Staten Island (DEC and Park lands).

For more information about Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases, visit: