DELMAR, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Warmer temperatures are sweeping across the region and people are taking advantage of it. Hiking and biking trails are seeing a steady increase in traffic and while people are excited to spend their time outdoors, it comes with an increased risk of picking up a not-so-friendly hitchhiker.
“There were over 300,000 diagnosed cases of Lyme disease last year,” Says Deputy Director of Catskill Mountain Keepers Katherine Nadeau. “Those numbers seem to keep growing.”
They may be small, but they could pack a major punch. May is National Tick Awareness month and with an increase in outdoor traffic due to warmer temperatures, President of Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies Josh Ginsberg says we may be in store for a ticked-off season.
“The first thing is ticks come and go,” according to Ginsberg. “There are years where it is pretty horrible, and this year is one of those years,” he says.
Studying factors that may lead towards an increased tick population like climate change, landscape fragmentation, and the impacts it may have on the spread of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses, Ginsberg says they are seeing a widespread impact throughout the northeast.
According to Ginsberg, “Ticks are in places we didn’t see them before,” saying they are up in the Adirondacks now. “We have had cases of Lyme in the Adirondacks. We never use to have that and because of climate change and it getting warmer they are increasing.”
And while staying indoors all year long is an option, when heading out onto the trails the best way to avoid ticks is to be prepared.
“Wear appropriate clothing,” says Nadeau. “Wear long sleeves. Make sure that your pants are tucked into your socks.”
Finally, the most important step is to check your skin.
“It takes about 24 hours for a tick to transmit Lyme disease to you.” According to Ginsberg. “So, particularly for kids, tick checks, tick checks, tick checks. The one thing we know is the sooner you get treated the better. So, the best thing to do is if you get a tick bite, go talk to your doctor.”