STATEN ISLAND, NY – Spring is in full swing, and so are all the ball games and outdoor activities that come with it. And while families stand in that tall grass on the football sidelines and wander some city trails, Staten Island’s abundant tick population rears its ugly head once again.
“Ticks are most active in the spring, summer, and fall,” the New York City Department of Health and Human Services notes on its website, describing how the pests are found in cooler areas where trees, scrub, foliage, and tall grasses provide shelter and shade from the Sun. “Ticks avoid heat and direct sunlight. Ticks wait to latch on to a passing person or animal, then crawl around until they find a spot to attach themselves to.”
Noting that many different types of ticks have been found throughout New York City, the website says black-legged ticks are common on Staten Island — many have tested positive for Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. So what to do if you get bitten by a tick? Experts say there is one essential step you should always take after removal: keep it.
“The thing is because different ticks carry different pathogens if you know what kind of tick you have and also which ones [tick] Your life stage can help narrow that list down,” Jean Tsao, an associate professor at Michigan State University who studies ticks and tick-borne diseases, recently told Advance/SiLive’s Michigan-based sister publication, MLive.com.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are more than a dozen tick-borne pathogens that can cause disease in humans. These diseases include Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which are caused by bacteria that can be transmitted by blackleg ticks and American dog ticks, respectively.
But not all ticks transmit disease, MLive.com further explains, and different pathogens take different amounts of time to fully transmit to a person after a tick bite. For example, the CDC says that the risk of Lyme disease is low if a black-legged tick has been attached to it for less than 24 hours, which is why experts recommend checking for ticks daily and removing any attached tick immediately.
So what’s the best way to save a tick that bit you? After carefully removing an embedded tick, Tsao told MLive.com to place the tick in a resealable plastic bag and freeze it — which preserves it for easy identification. (A thawed tick in a plastic bag will eventually dry out and be difficult to identify, she says.)
Also, Tsao says the bag should be labeled with the date the tick was removed and potential dates and locations the tick may have been ingested, which can help further narrow down possible pathogens if you get sick.
For more information on ticks and tick-borne diseases, contact the CDC and the New York City Department of Health.