BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Erie County Health Department is warning residents about tick season as more people head outdoors to enjoy the warmer weather. It is that time of year again, warmer weather means it is tick season in Western New York. Experts say it is important to use mitigation strategies to prevent getting a tick bite.
“It’s a tick bite. It can cause as much damage as anything else,” Rebecca Roll, founder of Lyme WNY, said. “Nobody really thinks its a problem. I think everybody just thinks ‘Oh big deal ticks. Oh big deal Lyme disease’, but it really is.”
As more people head outside, experts are warning to watch out for ticks and take precautionary measures to avoid contracting illnesses like Lyme disease. The CDC shows that ticks can be as small as a seed, going almost unnoticed, but they can cause significant disease and symptoms
“Most people get somewhat ill with it when they get it and they have some type of fever and sometimes a rash. Sometimes those symptoms are pretty mild at the beginning,” Dr. Mark Hicar, pediatric infectious disease expert at the University at Buffalo, said.
Dr. Hicar says some cases can be missed because symptoms are so varied. Lyme disease cases that are not diagnosed right away can result in joint swelling, headache and fogginess. He says the University at Buffalo will be a subsite for a larger, worldwide vaccine trial, which is being developed by Pfizer.
“I thought people would be interested in it because of the increasing Lyme cases in the area. It’s also an FDA fast tracked, so I assume as long as the safety data is well, I think this will be approved in the next three to five years,” Dr. Hicar explained.
Roll’s Husband was diagnosed with lyme disease in 2013 and she says his symptoms were severe. Her goal is to educate others about the importance being cautious and using prevention strategies.
“It’s an everywhere problem. It’s a backyard problem. It’s a sports field problem. It’s a baseball field problem. It’s a golf problem. Anywhere you go outdoors it’s a problem. However, be precautionary,” Roll said. “We do that by spraying our yard. We do that by spraying our skin, by spraying our gear and our clothing. And doing our tick checks every single night.”
Roll And Dr. Hicar recommend purchasing tick repellant spray for both your skin and your clothing. Also, if you do head outside try to wear light colored clothing and always do a tick check when you get back indoors. Remember to check your pets for ticks if they head outdoors too.
Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native and Emmy nominated reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.