Preventing Heat-Related Illness

Brewster, NY- When the temperatures soar this summer, stay cool, stay hydrated, and stay informed. Anyone at any time, even those who are physically fit, can suffer heat-related illness in extreme temperatures.

Residents should be careful and take precautions during a hot spell lasting a few days. Watch out for your family, friends and neighbors too. Infants, young children and the elderly especially can have problems in hot weather,” states MaryEllen Odell.

“Heat or sun stroke is the most dangerous type of heat-related illness and causes several hundred deaths in the United States each year,” says Michael Nesheiwat, M.D., Interim Commissioner of Health. “Heat stroke occurs when a person’s body temperature goes over 104 degrees Fahrenheit.  If you think someone has heat stroke, call 911.”

Another heat-related problems is heat exhaustion.  Signs of this include cold, pale, clammy skin, dizziness, fainting, nausea, muscle cramps or headache.  “If someone faints and passes out, call 911 immediately and move the person to a cooler location—out of the sun or into air-conditioning. Apply cool water with a cloth to the back of their neck or forehead. Give sips of water every 15 minutes for one hour,” Dr. Nesheiwat advises.

Heat cramps or painful spasms in the legs and abdomen can also occur, but are less severe. If a person is on a low-sodium diet or has heart problems, seek medical attention right away. Otherwise, drink sips of water every 15 minutes for one hour. If cramps don’t go away, seek medical care.

To ensure a safe summer, take these steps to stay cool in hot weather:

  • Drink plenty of fluid. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink. Water is best because it

replenishes your body’s natural fluids.  Avoid alcohol and very sugary drinks, which dehydrate the body.

  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun’s energy. Wear a wide-brimmed hat or use an umbrella.  Use a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher as sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool down.
  • Avoid hot and heavy meals –they add heat to your body.
  • Try to schedule outdoor activity in the early morning and evening hours when it is coolest.
  • Stay indoors in a cool or air-conditioned place.
  • Never leave a person or pet in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are cracked open and you only expect it to be a short period of time.

 

During extreme heat events, cooling centers are open for Putnam residents as well. For a list of local cooling shelters and phone numbers to call to check hours of operation, visit the NYS Department of Health website at https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/weather/cooling/. For more information on heat-related illness during prolonged periods of extreme temperatures, call the Putnam County Department of Health at (845) 808-1390.

The Department of Health’s mission is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit the PCDOH website at www.putnamcountyny.com/health or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth, and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

Low Cost Spay and Neuter Services for Cats

This year to date Stray HELP has

  • Handled/handling 71 cats and kittens through our adoption program; includes abandoned, neglected and young enough to socialize kittens.
  • Transferred 12 cats and kittens to local shelters.
  • Working to take another 26 kittens off the street, that we have been alerted to.
  • Spayed/neutered 248 high risk cats.

Each one of these individuals needed care. Additionally, there are several projects that we have not yet been able to get involved with numbering from 6 to over 60 cats and kittens in need at each location.

Breastfeeding Moms: Save-the-date, Friday, August 4

Breastfeeding Moms: Save-the-date, Friday, August 4

On Friday, August 4, breastfeeding moms in Putnam County and the surrounding area will join thousands of others from around the world for the 2017 BIG LATCH ON.

Putnam County’s local event is hosted by the Putnam County Department of Health and will take place at the Carmel Fire Department, 94 Gleneida Avenue.

Raffle prizes, information, activities and refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is preferred but walk-ins are welcome. First 25 people to pre-register will be guaranteed a gift bag.

Please arrive by 9:45 am so everyone can be registered and settled in for the 10:30 latch on. For more information or to register, contact the Putnam County Department of Health at (845) 808-1390, ext. 43232

or email Maria.Shaffer@putnamcountyny.gov  or https://www.facebook.com/events/1409740492425914/  .

Local Cat Tests Positive for Rabies

Brewster, NY- Last Friday, June 23, in the area of Tanager Road and Wright Road in Mahopac, a gray tabby cat tested positive for rabies. The cat was seen earlier in contact with other cats in the area, according to reports to the Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH). Since rabies can spread through the saliva of an infected animal, other cats may be infected as well. Any person or pet who may have had physical contact with this cat, or other cats or wild animals in the area, should contact the Health Department immediately at 845-808-1390.

“Rabies is a potentially fatal disease, but the only way to get it is through a bite from a sick animal or saliva in an open wound,” interim Commissioner of Health Michael Nesheiwat, M.D., reminds residents. “All animal bites or contact with wild animals should be reported promptly to the Department of Health. To reduce your risk for rabies exposure, it’s best to avoid going near wild or stray animals and keep pets up to date on rabies vaccination.”

Ongoing programs to reduce the chance of spreading rabies include the Putnam County Feral Cat Task Force and the PCDOH- sponsored, free pet vaccination clinics. The next free rabies vaccination clinic will be held Saturday, July 15, at Hubbard Lodge, 2880 Route 9 in Cold Spring, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., and is open to all Putnam County residents. Dogs must be leashed and well-controlled, and cats and ferrets must be in a carrier.

Please bring photo ID as proof of Putnam County residency, as well as written proof of prior rabies vaccination. Tags are not acceptable. If you do not have a written certificate documenting prior rabies vaccination, your pet will receive a one-year rabies vaccine. An animal information/release form will be available and can be completed at the clinic site. For more information and directions, please call the PCDOH at (845) 808-1390 ext. 43127.

The Department of Health’s mission is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit the PCDOH website at www.putnamcountyny.com/health or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth, and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

Free Rabies Clinic Saturday July 15th

Bring your dogs, cats and ferrets to a FREE rabies vaccination clinic on

Saturday, July 15th, from 10am – 12pm. Sponsored by the Putnam County

Department of Health, the clinic is being held at Hubbard Lodge, 2880 Route 9, Cold Spring, NY and is open to all Putnam County residents.

Please bring photo ID as proof of Putnam County residency, as well as proof of prior rabies vaccination. Tags are not acceptable. If you do not have proof of prior rabies vaccination, your pet will receive a one-year rabies vaccine. All dogs must be leashed and cats and ferrets must be in carriers. For more information and directions, please call the Putnam County Department of Health at (845) 808-1390 ext. 43127.

PCDOH Offers Free HIV Testing on June 27

BREWSTER, NY—This year annual National HIV Testing Day encourages people of all ages to “Test your way. Do it today.” As in previous years, the main message is to take control of your health and find out if you may have the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, which over time usually causes AIDS. In early stages a person often feels fine. In fact, approximately one in seven Americans infected do not know they are carrying the virus. In total, nearly 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention in Atlanta.

“With early diagnosis, we can begin treatment sooner,” said Michael Nesheiwat, MD, Putnam County’s Interim Commissioner of Health. “This can make a big difference in the patient’s outcome. It can save lives and can help limit the spread of the virus.”

To encourage HIV testing, the Putnam County Department of Health, in partnership with Westchester Medical Center and Planned Parenthood, will be offering free rapid HIV testing and counseling on Tuesday, June 27. Mobile vans will be located at the Carmel Fire Department, 94 Gleneida Avenue, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, and at Brewster Towne Plaza, 1620 Route 22 (near Value Village), from 12 noon to 6 p.m. Testing will also be offered at the main health department office, 1 Geneva Road, Brewster, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Privacy and confidentiality are ensured. No appointments are necessary and results are ready in 20 minutes. Free condoms, giveaways and educational information will be available at all sites.

HIV can affect anyone regardless of age, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or gender. In 2015, 22 percent of all new HIV diagnoses in the U.S. were among youth aged 13 to 24 years of age. People aged 50 and older have many of the same HIV risk factors as younger people, but may be less aware of their risk. In 2014, people aged 50 and older accounted for 17 percent of those living with HIV infection.

Today people with HIV and AIDS are living longer, healthier and more productive lives. New research is promising, but there is still no vaccine or cure for HIV. Safe sex is the best “primary prevention,” but early testing and diagnosis saves lives too. Testing and early results are part of what is called “secondary prevention” in public health terms. Older Americans are more likely than youth to be tested later in the course of their disease. This means delayed treatment, often more health problems and shorter survival. Despite medical advances, HIV/AIDS is still a significant cause of death for some age groups. It was the 8th leading cause of death for those from 25 to 34 years of age in 2014 in the U.S.

For more information about HIV testing or HIV/AIDS education and prevention, contact the Health Department at (845) 808-1390.

The Health Department’s mission is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit the PCDOH website at www.putnamcountyny.com/health or visit the social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

Rabies Concerns Rise in Spring

Brewster, NY—Rabies is a deadly disease. When an animal sick with rabies bites a person or another animal, the disease can spread through the animal’s saliva. Without treatment a person infected with the rabies virus will usually not survive. When the warm, spring weather arrives, the chance of infection rises because people spend more time outdoors. Wild baby animals are born and often seen. In New York State, more than half of the rabies cases in wild animals are in raccoons, followed by bats, skunks and foxes. So far this year, three raccoons in Putnam County have been tested and found to have the rabies virus. Domesticated animals, such as cats and dogs, can also become sick with rabies. Regular pet vaccination can protect them.

“A person can become infected with the rabies virus through a bite from a sick animal,” says interim Commissioner of Health Michael Nesheiwat, M.D. “Infection can occur when saliva carrying the virus comes in contact with not only an open wound, but also an individual’s eyes, nose or mouth. That is why approaching a wild or stray animal, no matter how cute, is a bad idea. An animal does not have to look sick to be infected. ”

Every year, well-meaning residents try to help baby animals they think may have been abandoned. Later they become worried that they might get rabies. A better plan is to leave the animal alone, or call a wildlife rehabilitator to see if the animal truly needs assistance. The only way to check for certain if any animal has rabies is to test their brain tissue.

Safety around animals should include teaching children to avoid all wild and stray animals and telling an adult about any contact with an animal, including an unfamiliar pet. Children and adults alike should resist the urge to touch or pet a wild or stray animal, including new litters of baby animals.

“While wildlife and feral cats account for a number of required rabies treatments, the number-one reason for treatments in Putnam County remains bats,” continues Dr. Nesheiwat. Bats are more likely to get into homes and are more active in spring when they return to the local area.

“If you find a bat in your home, capturing it safely is best,” adds Dr. Nesheiwat. “We can test it for rabies and you can avoid the two-week series of shots if it’s not infected.” To safely capture a bat, watch the popular demo from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), available on the Putnam County website at http://www.putnamcountyny.com/how-to-capture-a-bat/ .

Other programs to reduce the chance of spreading rabies include the PCDOH pet vaccination clinics and the Feral Cat Task Force. Free vaccination clinics are usually held three times a year—in March, July and November. The next event will be held at Hubbard Lodge in Cold Spring on July 15 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. The Feral Cat Task Force has captured, neutered, vaccinated and returned 622 cats, and adopted or fostered 128 of them in Putnam County since 2012. For people interested in volunteering or making a donation in support of this program, please contact the Health Department at 845-808-1390 ext. 43160.

All animal bites or contact with wild animals should be reported promptly to the Department of Health at 845-808-1390. After hours or on weekends/holidays report the incident by calling the Environmental Health Hotline at 845-808-1390 and press “3.” A Health Department representative will promptly return your call. The Health Department will test a wild animal for possible rabies after an incident involving human or pet contact. If a family pet encounters a wild animal, avoid immediate handling of your pet, or use rubber gloves and call the Health Department.

The Health Department’s mission is to improve and protect the health of the county’s nearly 100,000 residents through prevention of illness and injury. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our website at www.putnamcountyny.com/health  or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

Mosquito Season Is Here: After Heavy Rain, Water Removal Can Reduce Mosquito Populations

Mosquito Season Is Here: After Heavy Rain, Water Removal Can Reduce Mosquito Populations

BREWSTER, NY—The water pools formed after the heavy rainfall of last weekend may soon be teaming with mosquito larva. Already this season, the Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH) has found and identified Aedes Japonicus mosquitoes, the type that carries West Nile Virus, chikungunya, dengue, and other viruses.

“We have not had a case of West Nile Virus in the county since 2011,” says interim Health Commissioner Michael Nesheiwat, MD, but that could change. Taking measures to reduce mosquito populations is very important. Putnam residents are strongly advised to remove all standing water from their property.”  To date only three cases of chikungunya have been reported in Putnam, all since 2014. Four cases of dengue fever have been reported as well, the most recent in 2012. However, these seven cases were all travel related and not instances of locally acquired infections.

Mosquitoes can breed in anything that collects water in the yard, if left for more than four days. Some mosquitoes, including the Aedes Albopictus, prefer small items like a bottle cap, full of water, in which to breed. Only one lone specimen of A. Albopictus has ever been found in Putnam. While this mosquito has shown to be capable of carrying the Zika virus in a lab, it has not proven itself as a reliable carrier in the real world.

“Checking your yard now and after every rainfall is crucial,” says Robert Morris, PE, MPH, Director of Environmental Health at the Putnam County Department of Health. “Items that trap water—old tires, rain gutters, cups or cans, even leaves and tree holes—may provide a breeding spot. Drill holes in tires or dispose of them properly; clean gutters, and overturn all containers, however small.” Contrary to popular belief, smaller pools of water are more productive for mosquito breeding than larger bodies of water, which have natural mosquito predators such as fish or aquatic insects, such as dragonflies. The PCDOH continues to apply larvicide to targeted road catch basins around the county to reduce breeding locales. This season, like last year, mosquito tracking by the PCDOH and the New York State Department of Health will be increased as well.

Preventing bites of all kinds also should be a top priority.  Personal protection measures are advised for any outdoor activities. Shoes, socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts are reliable methods. Clothing that is factory-treated with the insecticide permethrin has also been proven effective. Insect repellent containing DEET should also be used as well, paying close attention to the directions provided by the manufacturer. Children should not apply this product themselves—it should be applied for them.

The Department of Health’s mission is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit the PCDOH website at www.putnamcountyny.com/health or visit the social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth, and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

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Disaster Exercise to Safeguard Children Conducted in Putnam County; Health Department, Emergency Services and Community Organizations Rehearse How to Serve the Needs of Youngest Residents

Disaster Exercise to Safeguard Children Conducted in Putnam County; Health Department, Emergency Services and Community Organizations Rehearse How to Serve the Needs of Youngest Residents

BREWSTER, NY—Nearly 60 percent of Putnam households believe they would be reunited with their children within several hours of a major disaster. Yet history has proven otherwise: it took an astounding seven months to reunite the last child with family after Hurricane Katrina. This reality, and the fact that each day, nearly 20,000 children in Putnam County spend the majority of their day at a childcare facility or school, are the reasons behind the disaster preparedness exercise performed by Putnam County’s Community Resilience Coalition on Wednesday, May 3. More than 50 attendees from 28 organizations and agencies participated in the event which ran from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Centennial Golf Club in Carmel.

“This exercise brings a deeper understanding of how our Putnam organizations and agencies interact during an emergency,” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell.  “By providing an opportunity for our child-serving institutions to partner with local emergency responders, we improve communication and response to support and protect the children of our community.”

To better address the unique needs of children, the local Community Resilience Coalition (CRC), an official subcommittee of the longstanding Disaster Preparedness Task Force of Putnam County, conducted a discussion-based, “tabletop” exercise to test the assumptions, protocols and resources of child-serving institutions and key community stakeholders who may interact with children before, during, and after an emergency.

“The purpose of the exercise was to envision all the possibilities that could happen and then to decide how we, as community organizations, would handle it,” said Commissioner Anthony Sutton of the Bureau of Emergency Services of Putnam County. “By talking through the steps of a specified scenario, we identify where the gaps are and how best to fill them.” The scenario that was played out involved a major earthquake with direct damage in Putnam County, causing evacuation at some childcare and other essential facilities, and limiting availability of state and federal resources.

More than 65% of American households do not have an adequate emergency plan, and nearly half have none at all. Additionally, 45% of Putnam households believe help will arrive in under an hour in the event of a large-scale, unanticipated disaster, indicating a widespread sense of unrealistic expectations and false security. Furthermore in Putnam County, 41% of households are not familiar

with their child’s daycare or school evacuation and emergency plan. These statistics collectively support the notion that if disaster were to strike, many communities would be underprepared to protect children.

This exercise is a component of the national Resilient Children/Resilient Communities Initiative (RCRC), a partnership between the National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP) at Columbia University’s Earth Institute and Save the Children (STC) funded by a grant from GSK. Putnam County is one of two pilot communities in the U.S. working on the RCRC Initiative.

The players in the exercise included representatives from schools, child care and after-school programs, law enforcement, public health and healthcare, emergency management and first responders, and other various government and community organizations.

“Strengthening the link between emergency management and child-serving institutions ultimately improves all emergency plans, in addition to sharpening our response and recovery action,” said interim Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD.

Barbara Garbarino, project liaison for the CRC, who previously worked for the Child Care Council of Dutchess and Putnam, Inc., further explained that, “When childcare facilities are better prepared to take care of their children in an emergency, it not only frees responders to help others in need, but it also helps ensure children will recover more readily after the crisis. Children do best when their normal routines resume as quickly as possible.”

“An exercise like this better prepares local counties to anticipate and meet the unique needs of children,” said Jeff Schlegelmilch, deputy director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. “This is one of many activities of the Community Resilience Coalition that serves as a model for other communities looking to do this kind of work.”

The exercise scenario was collaboratively developed with input, advice, and assistance from a multi-agency exercise planning team. This exercise followed the guidance set forth by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is compliant with Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) protocols and standards.

To learn more about Putnam’s CRC, visit the web page: http://www.putnamcountyny.com/health/community-resilience-coalition/.

About the Resilient Children/ Resilient Communities Initiative

The Resilient Children/Resilient Communities Initiative (RCRC) is funded by a grant from GSK and is led by the National Center for Disaster Preparedness in partnership with Save the Children. Launched in 2015, the three-year RCRC initiative has brought together local stakeholders in two pilot communities in New York and Arkansas to create emergency plans that meet the substantial needs of children in disasters. It has also established a national panel of experts to link the community work with preparedness priorities of communities throughout the United States. Learn more about the initiative here: http://ncdp.columbia.edu/rcrc

About Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH)

The Department of Health’s mission is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit the PCDOH website at www.putnamcountyny.com/health or visit the social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth, and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

About Putnam County Bureau of Emergency Services (BES)

The BES mission is to keep county residents safe from harm, by providing services to all fire, EMS and related emergency management initiatives. This includes training and equipping special teams for fire investigation, police response and hazardous materials mitigation, and a credible assessment team (CAT). Additionally, BES maintains a countywide communications system and continually seeks ways to improve response to both natural and manmade disasters. For more information, please visit the Bureau of Emergency Services website at http://www.putnamcountyny.com/pcbes.

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Tick Season is Back; Experts Predict Increase in Tick-borne Illnesses this Year

Tick Season is Back;

Experts Predict Increase in Tick-borne Illnesses this Year

BREWSTER, NY— The recent mild winter, together with an unusually large population of mice last year, have experts thinking there will be increased numbers of ticks and the diseases they carry this season. A single mouse can carry up to 100 infected ticks on its tiny ears and face.

“Unfortunately, it is not only Lyme disease we are concerned about,” says interim Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD. “There are other illnesses carried by ticks and we are seeing increases in all of them. Our number-one line of defense has been, and still is, preventing tick bites in the first place.”

More than a dozen tick-borne illnesses have been identified by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, including five that infect residents in the Hudson Valley region. Lyme disease is the most common and the most well-known, but anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis and babesiosis are present as well and appear to be on the increase. Powassan disease, a rarer and potentially deadly infection, is also carried by the same black-legged tick (commonly referred to as a deer tick) that transmits Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and babesiosis.

To prevent these illnesses, residents should take extra care this summer when outside, especially in wooded or brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter. Young or nymphal ticks develop in the spring and their tiny size makes them more difficult to see. They feed primarily on white-footed mice, which may be infected with Lyme or other bacteria. The nymphal ticks then go on to bite and infect humans. Infected squirrels and birds can also serve as hosts, or go-betweens, to spread the disease to ticks. Deer play a role as well, by providing a third and final blood meal that the tick needs in order to reproduce.

Unfortunately tick-borne illnesses can be challenging to diagnose. If a blood test is performed too early, the results may come back negative when the person has in fact contracted the infection. The test is only negative because the patient’s antibodies have not reached a level high enough to be detected, which takes approximately one week. A physician makes a diagnosis based on a combination of available tests, his or her observation of the patient, along with a patient history and description of symptoms. The only way an absolute diagnosis of Lyme disease can be made is in a patient with the unmistakable bullseye rash, which occurs in only 70 to 80 percent of infected individuals.

Making the situation worse, a small percentage of patients who do contract Lyme disease

may have lingering symptoms of fatigue, joint pain or muscle aches, lasting 6 months or more

after completing treatment. The cause of this condition, sometimes called chronic Lyme disease, but more

accurately described as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, is not completely understood.

“Patients may not recall a tick bite, and early symptoms, when antibiotics are most effective, are

non-specific or similar to other viral illnesses,” continues Dr. Nesheiwat. “Not all patients get the telltale bullseye rash with Lyme. That’s why preventing bites is so important.”

Research shows that using insect repellent with 20 percent or more of DEET (chemical name, N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide), performing frequent tick checks and wearing protective clothing are effective methods to reduce a person’s chance of infection. As a result, even in spring and summer when the weather is warm, shoes and socks, along with long pants and long-sleeved shirts are advised in areas where ticks are common. Clothing that is factory-treated with the insecticide permethrin has proven highly effective in deterring tick bites in research studies as well. Treated clothing is commercially available, as is a spray that can be applied on one’s own clothing. These may be worth considering if much time is spent in risky environments. If clothes are untreated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends placing them in a dryer on high for at least ten minutes to kill any ticks that may have been brought in from outside. Damp clothing may need up to one hour of drying to rid them of ticks—simply washing clothes does not work.

Full tick checks are also advised. Ticks crawl upwards—they don’t fly or jump. They instinctively move up to attach around the scalp, neck or ears, where skin is naturally thinner and where animals and people alike, have more trouble finding and dislodging them. Places to especially check are behind the knees, around the groin area, underarms, head, neck and ears. If a tick is found attached, it should be removed at once with fine-tipped tweezers. Application of petroleum jelly, alcohol or other substance is not advised and may increase infection risk. Studies done on mice show that removal within 24 hours provided 100 percent protection from Lyme disease transmission and removal at 48 hours provided 63 percent protection. No protection was found with removal after 66 hours of attachment.

In Dutchess County to Putnam’s north, where tick-borne illnesses are similarly high, a five-year study has begun to test if neighborhood-based prevention efforts can reduce human cases of tick-related diseases. Two tick control methods will be tested. The first applies a low dose of fipronil, a tick medicine used on dogs and cats to kill their ticks, onto mice and chipmunks; the second involves applying a spray on vegetation to eliminate ticks. The spray, developed from a naturally occurring fungus, is safe for people, pets and the environment. Called the “Tick Project,” this research may formulate a neighborhood-based plan that can reduce these diseases, since no human vaccine is available.

If you think you have been bitten by a tick and develop symptoms within a few weeks, you should visit your healthcare provider as soon as possible. The most common symptoms include fever/chills, aches and pains, and a skin rash. Your provider will evaluate your symptoms and order diagnostic tests if indicated. For more details, visit the CDC’s webpage on “Symptoms of Tick-borne Illnesses.”

The Department of Health’s mission is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit the PCDOH website at www.putnamcountyny.com/health or visit the social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth, and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

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