State health officials conduct tick sweep in Saratoga Co.

BALLSTON LAKE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The New York State Department of Health conducted a tick sweep on Monday in recognition of Lyme Disease Awareness Month.

State and Saratoga County health officials collected ticks for research in Veterans Memorial Park and Mooney Carrese Forest on Wednesday. It’s a process health officials use to see how many ticks are in the area and to test the ticks for pathogens.

Officials found several ticks during the sweep, including the nymphal ticks which are often found this time of year.

“Which you might think of as teenagers, if you will, but the problem is they are really, really, really small,” Bryon Backenson, epidemiologist with the NYS Dept. of Health, said. “They’re really difficult to see, and that’s the problem. People wind up getting these ticks attached to them. They’re so small they don’t see them, and therefore, they don’t remove them in time.”

Backenson said 95 percent of diagnosed Lyme disease cases come from nymphal ticks because they aren’t found.

“If you remove a tick in about 36 hours or so, you’re likelihood of actually getting Lyme disease goes way down,” he said.

Officials also demonstrated how to properly remove ticks. They said you should use small-tipped tweezers to remove the insect. Any other method can be more harmful.

One way to avoid tick bites is to walk in the middle of trails and avoiding brush.

“They’ll just hang out on the edge of a piece of grass or stick or what not, and they’ll stick their two arms up,” Backenson explained. “And when they stick their two arms up, they’re waiting for something to brush by.”

Officials also advise wearing long sleeves, tucking long pants into socks and using repellents. They also recommend wearing light colored clothing as it’s easier to spot the ticks.

Most cases of Lyme disease are contracted from mid-May through July, according to the Department of Health.

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