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, N.Y. (May 16, 2022) – 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 and ticks are active.

Since reporting of Lyme disease to DOH 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, the most common tick in New York) bites a person and remains attached for 24 or more hours. In some 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 Mary T. Bassett said, "Infected ticks can be found in outdoor areas across much of New York, and if you are bitten by one, you can suffer serious illness and debilitating symptoms. We are asking New Yorkers who venture outdoors this season to be vigilant and follow our common-sense precautionary measures. Prevention remains the most effective method to protect yourself and others from being bitten by an infected tick."

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, and follow label instructions.

State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "With more and more people seeking to explore our great outdoors this time of year, it's a good time to remember that tick safety should be a part of everyone's preparations. I encourage State Park visitors to get familiar with tips to avoid tick-borne diseases before heading out to parks, trails and campgrounds this season."

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Spring is an excellent time to get outdoors and enjoy warming temperatures, but it can also pose risks to outdoor enthusiasts, wildlife, and natural resources. In tick-infested areas, the best protection is to avoid contact with soil, leaf litter and vegetation. It's especially important this time of year for those who hike, camp, hunt, work or otherwise spend time in the outdoors to follow the proper guidance and know how to protect themselves against the risk related to ticks and tick-borne illnesses."

Tick bites can also transmit diseases in addition to Lyme disease. Some of these are less common such as babesiosis and anaplasmosis (averaging 453 and 759 cases annually since 2011, respectively) and others are rare, such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (averaging 30 cases annually since 2011) and Powassan encephalitis (totaling 30 cases since 2011). These diseases vary in their severity, but all can cause serious illness and even death, if untreated.

Recently, 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 2,000 of these ticks and has not found any 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.

DOH 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 DOH 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 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: