OLEAN – A walk outside, in the backyard or the park will be all the proof needed to show that mosquitoes are out and about already. Ticks, especially disease carriers, are out in full force as well.
Cattaraugus County health officials are warning people to take precautions.
Employees of the Cattaraugus County Health Department have been out for the last few days trying to get an account of the number and type of mosquitoes and ticks that are in the area. The variety of the pests can dictate what potentially harmful diseases people should be on the lookout for, and not just for themselves, but for their pets as well, Dr. Kevin Watkins, county health director, said Wednesday at the monthly meeting of the county Board of Health.
“We are already getting complaints from the Killbuck area about mosquitoes,” Watkins said. “Right now, we have people out doing surveillance, trying to get preliminary numbers of larvae, pupae and adults.”
That baseline will help to determine where and how soon aerial larvicide spraying will take place, Watkins said. Part of the issue is that there must be at least two weeks of advertising in local newspapers before spraying can take place, he said.
“We are still early in the season, and as the rain continues, we are going to see a large number of mosquitoes, and spraying may be needed,” he said. In previous years, with dry conditions and low counts of the insect, spraying has not been needed. Early in the legislative year, the Cattaraugus County Legislature approved a spending plan to spray, should it be necessary.
“Until we can get our baseline and determine if we need to spray, precautions are recommended for people during the dawn and dusk time frames,” Watkins said. When you are out during those times, it is best to wear long sleeves and pants, as well as use repellent. It is also recommended that all pools of stagnant water be disposed of to lessen the occurrence of the insects.”
As if the mosquitoes aren’t bad enough, it is also the time of year that ticks carrying diseases like Lyme disease are getting started, Watkins said.
“In February, the New York State Department of Health produced its surveillance results for 2013,” he said. During testing in that year, it found that about 40 percent of ticks in Olean’s Gargoyle Park tested positive for the disease, about the same rate for those tested in Allegany State Park.
Young ticks are most active from mid-May to late July, Watkins said. Adult ticks are generally out from October until temperatures are consistently freezing.
“When you are out, once you come in, tick checks are important,” Watkins said. “Make sure you are also checking your pets as well. A dog could have a dozen under all of that fur.”
Symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, fatigue and rash. Watkins said
If left untreated, the disease also can spread into the joints, causing arthritis. It also can lead to Bell’s palsy and meningitis.
The disease can take as long as six weeks to show in tests, and treatment is relatively cheap and easy, Watkins said.
The same exposure techniques for mosquitoes are recommended for ticks.