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Surveillance data from the Putnam County Department of Health indicates higher than average cases of the tickborne disease anaplasmosis in residents during the first six months of 2023.
Preliminary data shows 36 cases recorded from January through June. Those numbers are on par with counts seen in the first six months of 2021, the year with the highest case count on record.
Health officials said anaplasmosis can occur at any time of the year. Cases typically peak in June and July, coinciding with the active season of the nymphal Ixodes scapularis ticks responsible for most disease transmission.
Anaplasmosis symptoms typically begin one to two weeks after the bite of an infected tick. Symptoms include fever, chills, headaches, and muscle aches. Anaplasmosis can cause severe illness if treatment is delayed, or if other medical conditions are present. Prompt treatment reduces the risk of severe illness.
Officials warned ticks are very small, and sometimes their bites go undetected. The Putnam County Department of Health recommends residents seek medical care if they become ill with symptoms compatible with anaplasmosis, even if they are not aware of having been bitten by a tick.
Case numbers may be higher some years than others but there are always seasonal rises in spring and summer. Despite year-to-year variations, the take-home message from the Health Department is: Prevention is the best strategy.
Health Department officials recommend residents should avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter where most ticks are found. When venturing out, residents should use EPA registered repellents and wear clothing and use gear that has been treated with permethrin.
When returning home, officials advise residents to carefully examine and remove any ticks on clothes, gear or pets. In addition, tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks. If clothing is wet, additional time in the dryer is needed.
Also, residents should take a shower and do a full body tick check. The sooner an attached tick is removed, the less likely it is to transmit disease.
Staff from the Health Department have been educating the public about tick bite prevention strategies at community events and posting tick warning signs about ticks at parks and camps around the county. Additionally diagnostic and treatment resources are being distributed to health care providers by the department.
Rick has more than 40 years’ experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, running the gamut from politics and crime to sports and human interest. He has been an editor at Examiner Media since 2012. Read more from Rick’s editor-author bio here. Read Rick’s work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/pezzullo_rick-writer/