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health & wellness

Cuomo signs legislation to raise tobacco and e-cigarette sales from 18 to 21

Posted 16 July 2019 at 3:10 pm

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation (S.2833/A.558) to raise the minimum sales age for tobacco and electronic cigarette products from 18 to 21. This legislation builds on the governor’s comprehensive efforts to combat health threats from tobacco and e-cigarette products. The bill will take effect 120 days after becoming law.

“New York is taking aggressive action to stamp out smoking among teens and children, but tobacco and e-cigarette use still persists thanks to irresponsible corporate marketing campaigns targeting young people,” Governor Cuomo said. “By raising the smoking age from 18 to 21, we can stop cigarettes and e-cigarettes from getting into the hands of young people in the first place and prevent an entire generation of New Yorkers from forming costly and potentially deadly addictions.”

Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York State has moved from the 18th healthiest state in the nation in 2012 to the 10th healthiest state in the nation in 2017. In 2017, Governor Cuomo expanded the Clean Indoor Air Act to prohibit e-cigarette use in nearly every workplace to protect workers and the public from harmful secondhand tobacco smoke and vaping aerosols.

Despite this progress, tobacco use continues to be the number one cause of preventable death in New York State. About 28,000 adult New Yorkers die every year as a result of smoking. Additionally, an increasing number of underage youth are using both traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes. From 2014 to 2018 youth use of e-cigarettes increased by 160 percent from 10.5 percent to 27.4 percent and more than half of teens falsely believe that e-cigarette use is harmless.

Because tobacco use persists among youth and adults, New York State continues to prevent young adults from starting smoking. According to the Surgeon General, 88 percent of adult smokers started using tobacco before age 18 and 90 percent of the people who purchase cigarettes for minors are between the ages of 18 and 20. By raising the legal purchase age to 21, this legislation will help prevent underage children from obtaining tobacco products from their friends, reducing the likelihood young adults ever start smoking and become addicted, and ultimately save thousands of lives.

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Congressman Morelle hears about Oak Orchard Health plans for Orleans, Brockport

Posted 12 July 2019 at 7:29 am

Provided photo: Pictured from left include: Gary Skoog, Oak Orchard Health Board Chairman; Dr. Nancy Ciavarri, OOH Chief Medical Officer; Congressman Joseph Morelle; Mary Ann Pettibon, OOH CEO; Kathy Williams, OOH Board member; Dr. James Goetz, OOH Pediatrician; and Stacie Bridge, OOH Director of Operations.

Press Release, Oak Orchard Health

BROCKPORT – Congressman Joseph Morelle visited the Oak Orchard Health facility in Brockport last week. During the visit the Congressman listened to concerns regarding funding for health centers and the difficultly of recruiting providers to work in the rural communities that Oak Orchard Health serves.

The congressman was pleased and excited to hear about Oak Orchard Health’s new Behavioral Health collaboration with The College at Brockport and Brockport School District recognizing the need for early intervention for mental health issues in adolescents. He also learned about the Alternative Pain Management program at The Wellness Center at Oak Orchard Health in Albion, which is slated to open this fall.

Congressman Morelle spoke about the many initiatives that he is involved in at the national level while keeping his ties to Monroe County and the constituents that he serves by participating on local committees. He recognized Oak Orchard Health for its work and impact it has on the surrounding rural communities.

Oak Orchard Health is a Federally Qualified Health Center non-profit organization that has five locations – Albion, Lyndonville, Brockport, Warsaw and Hornell as well as a mobile dental unit. OOH strives to improve community wellness and provide the best possible care to their patients.

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Health Department has tips to be lead-free this summer

Posted 10 July 2019 at 3:18 pm

Press Release, Orleans and Genesee County Health Departments

The Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments want your kids to be lead free this summer! As many of us know, lead is a metal that can harm children and adults when it gets into their bodies.

Lead can be found in dust, air, water, soil, and in some products used in and around our homes. Although anyone can develop lead poisoning, unborn babies and children under the age of 6 are at greatest risk for health problems due to lead poisoning. Children with high lead levels in their blood can develop learning disabilities, decreased growth, hyperactivity and impaired hearing, as well as damage to other vital organs within the body, such as the kidneys and stomach. Below are some tips on how to be lead-aware this summer to keep our kids healthy and strong!

When beginning renovations and repairs around the home

If your home was built before 1978, there is a good chance it has lead-based paint. Sarah Balduf, Environmental Health Director of Genesee and Orleans counties, explains why renovating older homes can cause lead poisoning if not completed properly.

“Common renovation activities like sanding, cutting, and demolition can create unsafe lead dust and chips,” she said. “The most common way to get lead in the body is from dust. The key to protecting yourself and your family during a renovation, repair or painting job is to use lead-safe work practices including containing dust inside the work area, using dust-minimizing work methods, and conducting a careful cleanup.”

Safe work practices that Balduf encouraged include:

• Remove all furnishings and rugs before beginning your project. The work area should be sealed with plastic and taped down to keep the lead dust in. Cover air vents and turn off heaters and air conditioning systems during renovation and remodeling.

• When beginning the renovation it is important to have the proper protective equipment on hand. It is best to wear a properly fitted respirator with special lead HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters, as well as coveralls, goggles and gloves.

• Consider using special paints called encapsulants that seal the lead paint to the surface so it will not chip off.

• Use low dust practices by spraying water on surfaces before sanding or scraping.

• Vacuum any lead dust with a HEPA vacuum. Floors should be wet mopped with a removable mop head and then HEPA vacuumed. When finished, the mop head should be disposed or washed separately.

• Keep all non-workers, especially children, pregnant women, and pets outside of the work area until cleanup is completed.

• After the project site has been completely cleaned, throw away your protective gear or wash it separately.

When playing outside

Soil around homes built before 1978 may contain paint chips or lead dust from old paint that has cracked, blistered or peeled from areas on the outside of the home. Homes located near busy roads can also have elevated lead in the soil due to leaded gasoline fumes. Lead contaminated soil may get stuck under fingernails or on toys that children put in their mouths. Contaminated soil can also enter homes from shoes exposed to lead contaminated soil. When children spend time outside, it is important to:

• Wash child’s hands after outdoor play and before outdoor meals/snacks.

• Avoid playing in bare soil.

• Avoid playing under porches.

• Move play areas away from old buildings and roads.

• Fill a new sandbox with clean sand.

• Wash toys that have been outdoors.

Gardeners should also be aware of lead contaminated soil, especially when growing fruits, vegetables and herbs. Plants usually do not absorb lead, but lead particles can settle on produce and herbs grown in lead contaminated soil. After gardening, always wash your hands and face. Thoroughly wash any produce before storing and eating. If possible, plant gardens away from roads and old buildings. You may also plant produce in pots or raised beds using new soil and compost.

Healthy foods to prevent lead poisoning

A well-balanced diet is very important for preventing lead poisoning. Avoid meals that are high in fats and oils because they can help the body absorb lead. Children with empty stomachs absorb more lead than children with full stomachs. Serve foods that are a good source of calcium, iron and vitamin C. These foods can help your child’s body absorb less lead.

• Calcium keeps your bones strong and the lead out. Calcium-rich foods include: Milk and milk products, such as yogurt and cheese; Green leafy vegetables, including kale and turnip, mustard and collard greens; Calcium-fortified foods, such as orange juice, soy milk and tofu; and canned salmon and sardines.

• Iron also blocks lead from being absorbed. Iron-rich foods include: Lean red meats; iron-fortified cereal, bread and pasta; dried fruit, such as raisins and prunes; and beans and lentils.

• Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron better, but also may help with getting rid of lead. Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit; other fruits such as kiwi, strawberries and melon; tomatoes; potatoes and peppers.

For more information about lead, click here.

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Oak Orchard Health receives nearly $900K grant for programs to help migrant, seasonal workers

Posted 1 July 2019 at 2:22 pm

Press Release, Oak Orchard Health

BROCKPORT – Oak Orchard Health has been awarded $887,120 by the New York Department of Health to help improve the health status of migrant and seasonal workers and their families. This grant will fund the services Oak Orchard provides to migrant and seasonal farmworkers in the Monroe, Genesee, Orleans, Niagara and Wyoming counties.

Oak Orchard provides a model of care that integrates patient-centered medical, dental, vision and behavioral health care services – treating the whole patient and focusing on patient education. Oak Orchard believes that offering education to migrant seasonal farmworkers and their families can help prevent chronic diseases and workplace-related injuries and illnesses.

Additionally, the organization will be able to provide personal protective equipment to the migrant and seasonal farmworkers, as well as being able to treat in the camps where the farmworkers live.

These workers will be referred to an Oak Orchard Health center if more comprehensive care is needed, but this grant helps to eliminate the barriers of transportation and lack of time off work to provide the patient with health care.

Oak Orchard is based in Brockport and has centers in Albion, Lyndonville, Hornell and Warsaw.

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Social worker finds ways for patients to get dialysis so they can maintain active lives

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 28 June 2019 at 1:56 pm

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Ellen Tynan of Albion holds the plaque which Joe Mortellaro of Batavia received at the U.S. Bowling Conference in Las Vegas for 50 years of bowling. Tynan, the licensed master social worker at Lake Plains Dialysis in Medina and Batavia, arranged for Mortellaro to have dialysis in Las Vegas, so he could attend the event.

As the licensed master social worker at Lake Plains Dialysis in Medina and Batavia, Ellen Tynan of Albion knows it is very important that the need for chronic hemodialysis treatments does not cause a barrier to maintaining a quality of life.

“It is very important that my patients can attend graduations, family reunions, vacations and other events to stay connected with family and friends out of town,” Tynan said.

During her 25 years at the dialysis clinics, Tynan has arranged for hundreds of trips for individuals with chronic kidney failure who must have dialysis several times a week.

Most recently, Tynan learned that one of her patients, Joe Mortellaro of Batavia, wanted to attend the 2019 U.S. Bowling Conference in Las Vegas. Mortellaro, who is well-known in the Western New York area as owner of a trophy shop in Batavia, has been bowling since he was 17. The trip was very important to him, as he was going to be recognized for 50 years of bowling.

Mortellaro has been to nearly every U.S. Bowling Conference in the past 50 years and has 26 USBC championships to his credit. Tynan told Mortellaro nothing should stop him from going this time.

She contacted medical personnel in Las Vegas and arranged for Mortellaro to have a treatment early on Saturday morning, so he could bowl in the tournament with his team of his nephew Todd Mortellaro, Paul Spiotta, Greg Wolff, Joe Trigilio and Mark McVay.

“Doing all the referrals when people on dialysis want to travel is one of the positive things I do in my life,” Tynan said. “I have coordinated treatments for my patients all over the United States, Mexico, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. I also have patients who are snow birds and enjoy traveling to warmer climates every winter. Arranging visitor dialysis treatments is very rewarding for me and enables my patients to have a normal life.”

Orleans Community Health’s dialysis clinics in Medina and Batavia treat 111 patients at their sites, and that number is growing, Tynan said.

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Collins introduces legislation so uninsured Americans avoid inflated costs at hospitals

Posted 20 June 2019 at 5:05 pm

Press Release, Congressman Chris Collins

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) introduced legislation which provides a financial solution for uninsured Americans seeking medical procedures by hospitals.

The Protect the Uninsured Act of 2019 would amend Title XI of the Social Security Act to require hospitals and critical access hospitals to offer the uninsured individual access to the lowest negotiated price for any service or procedure.

“Hospitals are supposed to take care everyone, the uninsured are often saddled with debt far beyond what they can pay while others are receiving steep discounts for the same procedures,” said Congressman Collins. “People are putting their health at risk by avoiding important procedures due to inflated costs while hospitals are writing off uncollected debts as charity work.”

Hospitals negotiate discounts with insurance companies to determine costs of procedures or services they are willing to accept. This negotiated discount is subtracted from an inflated total cost of a procedure or service. The individual then pays a copay while the insurance company covers the remaining expenses.

Under current law, an uninsured patient is forced to cover the full cost of the procedure with no discounts, leading to uninsured patients mounting debt or avoiding necessary care. This legislation will provide financial relief to those who are uninsured by allowing the individual to receive the lowest discount negotiated with an insurance company for a procedure or service by a hospital.

To see the text of the bill, click here.

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Health officials urge community to be aware of rabies

Posted 15 June 2019 at 4:08 pm

3 raccoons and 1 horse have tested positive for rabies in Orleans County so far this year

Press Release, Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments

Summertime is right around the corner. The anticipation of vacations, warm long days, and relaxation are just ahead. As we prepare to spend more time outside, Paul Pettit, Public Health Director of Genesee and Orleans counties, would like to share a message with the community.

“This is a good time to remind folks about the dangers of rabies and how to prevent humans and domestic pets from contracting this deadly disease,” Pettit said. “When spending time outdoors this summer, it is important not to feed, touch or adopt wild animals, stray dogs or cats. Rabies is almost always fatal but the good news is that it’s 100 percent preventable.”

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). The virus is usually transmitted through a bite or scratch of an infected animal. Rabies is most often seen among wild animals such as raccoons, bats, skunks and foxes, but any mammal (human/ warm-blooded animal) can be infected with rabies. Pets and livestock can also get rabies if they are not vaccinated to protect them against the infection.

In Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming counties, there have been 37 animal specimens tested for rabies thus far in 2019. Of the 37 animals, 3 raccoons and 1 horse tested positive for rabies in Orleans County and 3 raccoons tested positive for rabies in Wyoming County. No animals have tested positive for the virus in Genesee County.

Although you cannot tell if an animal has rabies just by looking at it, you may notice the animal acting strange. Sarah Balduf, Environmental Health Director of Genesee and Orleans Counties, shares what the common signs of rabies appear to be in animals.

“Animals with rabies may show a variety of signs, including fearful- ness, aggression, affection, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, staggering, paralysis and seizures,” she said. “Animals with rabies may lose their natural fear of humans, and display unusual behavior – for example, an animal that is usually only seen at night may be seen wandering in the daytime.”

There is no treatment once the clinical signs of rabies appear. Infected animals usually die within one week after showing signs of rabies. Rabies infection of an animal can only be confirmed after death, through microscopic examination of the animal’s brain.

In humans, rabies may take up to three months to fully develop. The virus presents itself as flu-like symptoms such as a fever, headache, muscle aches, loss of appetite, nausea, and tiredness. Tingling, prickling, or itching around the bite area is also common. After a few days, neurological (brain/ nerve) symptoms develop including agitation, anxiety, confusion, hyperactivity, difficulty swallowing, excessive salivation, hydrophobia (fear of water), hallucinations, insomnia and partial paralysis.

If you are bitten, scratched or have contact with an animal you believe to be rabid, immediately wash the wound, seek medical attention and report the incident to your local county health department. A doctor or health department officials will determine if vaccination with rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (RPEP) is necessary. A person who is exposed and has never been vaccinated against rabies should get 4 doses of rabies vaccine; one dose right away, and additional doses on the 3rd, 7th, and 14th days. People who have weakened immune systems may require a fifth dose of vaccine, as determined by their doctor.

Once symptoms of the disease develop, rabies is fatal. There is no cure, only prevention. Review these tips on how to keep you, your family, and your pets safe from rabies:

• Do not feed, touch or adopt wild animals, stray dogs or cats. This includes baby animals.

• Be sure your pet dogs, cats and ferrets as well as horses and valuable livestock animals are up-to- date on their rabies vaccinations. Vaccination protects pets if they are exposed to rabid animals. Pets too young (less than 3 months) to be vaccinated should be kept indoors and allowed outside only under direct observation. • Keep family pets indoors at night. Don’t leave them outside unattended or let them roam free.

• Don’t attract wild animals to your home or yard. Keep your property free of stored bird seed or other foods that may attract wild animals and tightly cap or put away garbage cans.

• Board up any openings to your attic, basement, porch or garage. Cap your chimney with screens.

• Be aware that bats have small, sharp teeth and in certain situations people can be bitten and not know it. Do not release a bat when found in a room with a person or pet sleeping or unable to speak. If you are able to safely capture the bat, bring it to your county health department where it will be transferred to the state for rabies testing. Click here to watch a video on how to safely capture a bat.

• Teach children not to touch any animal they do not know and to tell an adult immediately if they are scratched or bitten by any animal.

• If a wild animal is on your property, let it wander away. Bring children and pets indoors and alert neighbors who are outside. If possible, try to contain the wild animal.

• Anyone who has been bitten by any animal or who otherwise may have been exposed to rabies, needs to Capture and Call. If you can do so safely, being careful to not damage the head/brain, cap ture the animal and call your local health department or a doctor to report the incident. Capturing the animal is vital in order for it to be tested for rabies.

To protect your pets from rabies, please visit one of our upcoming anti-rabies clinics:

  • Genesee County: Thursday, August 15: Genesee County Fair Grounds, 5031 East Main Rd., Batavia, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Orleans County: Saturday, August 24: Town of Shelby Highway Building, 4062 Salt Works Rd., Medina, 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

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NY removes non-medical exemptions for school vaccinations

Posted 14 June 2019 at 7:26 am

State seeks to protect public health in midst of measles outbreak

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday signed legislation sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz that removes non-medical exemptions from school vaccination requirements for children.

The United States is currently experiencing the worst outbreak of measles in more than 25 years, with outbreaks in pockets of New York primarily driving the crisis. As a result of non-medical vaccination exemptions, many communities across New York have unacceptably low rates of vaccination, and those unvaccinated children can often attend school where they may spread the disease to other unvaccinated students. This new law will help protect the public amid this ongoing outbreak.

“The science is crystal clear: Vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to keep our children safe. This administration has taken aggressive action to contain the measles outbreak, but given its scale, additional steps are needed to end this public health crisis,” Governor Cuomo said. “While I understand and respect freedom of religion, our first job is to protect the public health and by signing this measure into law, we will help prevent further transmissions and stop this outbreak right in its tracks.”

Although the State can claim high immunization rates overall, preventable diseases like measles remain a public health threat when administrative loopholes allow children to go unvaccinated, carrying the potential to harm communities—and especially our most vulnerable residents—throughout the state.

Statewide, 96 percent of school-age children have been inoculated against measles, mumps and rubella, with the “MMR” vaccine, but a measles outbreak continues to affect communities in several parts of the state where the rate is lower. New York State currently allows both medical and religious exemptions to the MMR and other vaccines for students attending school.

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, “Governor Cuomo’s leadership has continually raised the standard of public health and well-being across New York State. Immunizations give children the best protection from serious childhood diseases and are safe and effective. The efforts taken today stand in stark contrast to the disturbing anti-vaccination trends nationwide and underscore New York’s commitment to protecting public health.”

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Lyndonville wins county’s best-tasting water contest

Posted 11 June 2019 at 7:23 am

Press Release, Nola Goodrich-Kreese, public health educator for Orleans County Public Health Department

Photo by Tom Rivers: Nola Goodrich-Kresse and Marlowe Thompson, public health educators, ran the best-tasting water contest at the Albion Strawberry Festival. People tried samples of water from Albion, Holley and Lyndonville.

ALBION – It was a close contest this year with the winner receiving 39 percent of the 126 votes for Orleans County’s Best Tasting Tap Water Contest.

Congratulations to Lyndonville Municipal Water System for winning the 29th annual contest. For those who tasted the water, Albion was sample “A,” Holley was “B” and Lyndonville was “C”.

We appreciate our municipal water systems for providing safe and healthy water to all of our communities. Lyndonville will now advance to the regional contest later this summer.

Now that summer is almost here it is important to remember to stay hydrated – drink water whether you are thirsty or not. Increased heat and activity outdoors brings certain risks with it, particularly dehydration and heat-related illnesses.

Some people are more susceptible than others are to dehydration and heat related illnesses. They include infants, children, the elderly, and those with chronic illnesses.

Dehydration is “the excessive (too much) loss of water from the body.” The more physical activity that you engage in, the more water you are likely to lose.

Possible signs of dehydration:

• Dry mouth and fatigue.

• If you are mildly dehydrated, you might experience muscular pain or pain in the lower back region.

• Dark yellowish urine is also a good indicator that dehydration is setting in.

• Severe dehydration can cause dizziness, confusion, accelerated heartbeat and eventually, kidney failure.

There are ways you can prevent dehydration from occurring. The most obvious way to prevent dehydration is by drinking a sufficient amount of water to replace the fluids you lose throughout the day.

The best way to figure your ideal daily water needs is to take your body weight and divide it in half. This is the number of ounces of fluid you should be consuming on a daily basis through beverages and foods. For example, a person who weighs 160 pounds should be consuming no less than eight 10-ounce glasses (80 ounces) of water each day. You should drink more than this during extreme heat and/or if you are engaging in physical activity.

Consider these suggestions for keeping yourself well hydrated:

• Foods with high water content can help you meet your fluid needs. Some examples include soups, stews, citrus fruits, grapes and melons.

• Low-fat and fat-free milk, 100 percent fruit juice and decaffeinated tea and coffee can also count toward your minimum eight glasses of fluid a day.

• Develop a habit of staying hydrated. Drink a glass of water when you wake up, one between and at each meal, and one at bedtime to make eight. Remember you need more during hot days or when engaging in physical activity.

• Keep re-fillable bottles of water in your car, backpack or desk.

As the summer continues remember to drink plenty of water and take breaks in the shade especially when out working, playing, exercising and at the various festivals and fairs this year.

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Health officials urge precautions from ticks, which can cause Lyme disease

Posted 26 May 2019 at 8:36 am

Press Release, Genesee and Orleans public health departments

Springtime in New York is a much welcomed season. The trees are blooming, colorful flowers are sprouting up, and the days are getting longer. This is also a time when animals and insects make their return from the cold winter months. As many of us will be outdoors enjoying the warm months to come, it is important to be educated on ticks and Lyme disease to protect you, your family, and your pets from this harmful illness.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by the bite of an infected deer tick. In the United States, infected ticks can be found in the Northeast, including New York State; in the upper Midwest; and along the Northwest coast. Deer ticks live in shady, moist areas at ground level. They will cling to tall grass, brush and shrubs; but cannot jump or fly.

They also live in lawns and gardens, especially at the edges of woods and around old stone walls. Young deer ticks, called nymphs, are active from mid-May to mid-August and are about the size of poppy seeds. Adult ticks, which are approximately the size of sesame seeds, are most active from March to mid-May and from mid-August to November. Both nymphs and adults can transmit Lyme disease.

Ticks can attach to any part of the human body but prefer hard-to-see areas such as the groin, armpits, and scalp. If you find a tick on yourself or your pet it is important to remove it promptly. Although not all ticks are infected, your risk of acquiring Lyme disease is greatly reduced if the tick is removed within the first 36 hours after attachment. Brenden Bedard, Director of Community Health Services of Genesee and Orleans Counties, provides instructions on how to properly remove a tick.

“It is important to use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with soap and water or rubbing alcohol. Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet.”

Early diagnosis (within 3 to 30 days) and proper antibiotic treatment of Lyme disease can help to prevent late Lyme disease. Although Lyme disease is rarely life-threatening, delayed treatment can result in more severe disease. People who notice a characteristic rash or other possible symptoms, should consult their healthcare provider.

Signs and symptoms of early Lyme disease include: Red bullseye skin rash, called erythema migrans, facial paralysis (Bell’s Palsy), fatigue, chills and fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes.

As Lyme disease progresses more severe symptoms like arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling may develop months-to-years post tick bite in 60 percent of persons who are not given antibiotic treatment. It is important to keep in mind that getting Lyme disease once does not provide protection against getting Lyme in the future, if you are bitten again at a different time you can get Lyme disease again. If you develop any of these symptoms you should call your doctor right away to inquire about getting tested and treated.

The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid areas where deer ticks live, especially wooded, bushy areas with long grass. You can decrease your risk of getting Lyme disease with some simple precautions:

Cover up. When in wooded or grassy areas, wear shoes, long pants tucked into your socks, a long- sleeved shirt, a hat and gloves. Try to stick to trails and avoid walking through low bushes and long grass. Keep your dog on a leash.

Use insect repellents. Apply insect repellent with a 20 percent or higher concentration of DEET to your skin. Parents should apply repellant to their children, avoiding their hands, eyes and mouth. Keep in mind that chemical repellents can be toxic, so follow directions carefully. Wear clothing treated with 0.5% permethrin. Re-treat clothing annually according to label instructions.

Do your best to tick-proof your yard. Clear brush and leaves where ticks live. Mow your lawn regularly. Stack wood neatly in dry, sunny areas to discourage rodents that carry ticks.

Check your clothing, yourself, your children and your pets for ticks. Be especially watchful after spending time in wooded or grassy areas. It is helpful to shower as soon as you come indoors. Ticks often remain on your skin for hours before attaching themselves. Showering and using a washcloth might remove unattached ticks. Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, dry them completely and then dry for 10 minutes on high heat.

Bedard also mentions the importance of taking this education with you when you travel.

“When people are on vacation, they may not realize the area they are traveling to could have a high prevalence of deer ticks, which may lead to Lyme disease,” he said. “Make sure you are well prepared by researching the area ahead of time and bringing a tick removal kit with you.”

For more information on Lyme disease, please click here.