Lyme Disease is Down in Westchester
Articles and Media Coverage From Animal Defenders of Westchester (ADOW)

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***Note from Animal Defenders of Westchester, September 2015:  Lyme Disease is actually DOWN in Westchester

Lyme Disease is Growing, Spreading to New Areas: CDC Study

July 17, 2015

Westchester, like Putnam, Rockland and the rest of the Hudson Valley, has been a vector for Lyme disease for years.

Incidents of Lyme disease are on the increase, and not in just the usual places. The geographical spread of the disease is widening, according to the Center for Disease Control.

Over the last 20 years, in the Northeast, the number of counties with a high rate of the disease increased from 43 to 182, more than 320 percent. That included counties in Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts, among others.

The reason for this uptick? Climate change, according to an article on Quartz.

As the climate warms, ticks can survive in more environments, like the ones studied in those frigid north-central states.

Scientists said that as humans clear forests, popular tick targets like mice begin to find other homes, leaving ticks with fewer mammals to latch on to. So they go to another abundant source passing through their area: humans.

Connecticut is considered a high-risk area, as is nearly all of Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Other states that saw a growth in high-risk cases include New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

In Westchester County, the incidence of Lyme has actually dropped: The NYDOH calculated incidence of Lyme in Westchester was 247 in 2013, down from 635 in 2011.

But Westchester, like Putnam, Rockland and the rest of the Hudson Valley, has been a vector for Lyme disease for years.

“Our results show that geographic expansion of high-risk areas is ongoing, emphasizing the need to identify broadly implementable and effective public health interventions to prevent human Lyme disease,” says the CDC in the latest issue of EID Journal.

The first cases of Lyme’s disease appeared in children in Old Lyme, Connecticut in 1975.According to National Geographic, an unproven controversial theory is that it was spread from germ warfare experiments at the Plum Island Animal Disease Research Center, on Long Island Sound about eight miles from Old Lyme.

According to the Putnam County Health Department:

Gardeners, campers, hikers, and outdoor workers are more likely to be exposed. The ticks rest on low-lying vegetation and attach to passing animals and people. The risk is greatest along trails in the woods and on the edges of properties with tall vegetation, where the higher humidity levels are ideal for tick survival. Ticks are also carried into lawns and gardens by pets, mice and other small animals. Pets can additionally bring them into homes.

Attached ticks should be removed immediately to limit the chance of infection. Here’s how:

1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to carefully grasp the mouth-parts—not the body—of the tick close to the skin
2. Gently and steadily pull the tick out without twisting or squeezing.
3. Wash the bite area thoroughly.
4. Apply antiseptic, and mark the date on your calendar.

Symptoms of Lyme disease generally appear within 30 days of exposure, and may include fatigue, chills and fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes. For Lyme disease, a “bull’s eye” red rash may also appear at the bite site, often earlier than the other symptoms.

All tick-borne illnesses can be difficult to diagnose. Symptoms may mimic those of many other diseases. Left untreated, serious complications can occur, including severe arthritis, neurological and cardiac problems. With early detection and antibiotic treatment for the bacterial infections (Lyme, anaplasmosis and ehrilichiosis), recovery is usually rapid and complete.

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