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Cornell: Ticks still ‘abundant’

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Two ticks engorged with human blood.

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Two ticks engorged with human blood.

Think the  so-called “polar vortex” last winter  killed all the disease-carrying ticks? Think again. Cornell University released information today that the tick population is still high in the state.

“Despite the long, cold winter, ticks are abundant in New York State and surrounding areas,” said Paul Curtis, coordinator of Cornell University’s Wildlife Damage Management Program. “The persistent snow cover helped insulate overwintering ticks in the leaf litter,” he said.

The black-legged deer ticks tend to be found in primarily shaded areas such as woods or in shaded home landscapes and so they were largely protected this winter, he said.  High local deer populations have contributed to a high density of the ticks, he said. The result is an anticipated in crease in tick-borne diseases such as Lyme, he said.

He didn’t offer numbers, but has advice for people who venture out in wooded areas:

• Check yourself for ticks when you return home because they must be attached for 24 to 36 hours to transfer pathogens that cause disease.

• Check your pets when they come into the house.

• Wear light-colored clothing with long pants and sleeves and tuck the pants into socks and your shirt into your pants to prevent the ticks from getting to your skin.

• Use spray repellents.

• Check your clothing and toss it in a dryer for 10 minutes to assure any ticks that might be on the clothes are killed.

• Keep your lawn mowed and remove debris and leaf litter.

• Discourage rodents by reducing cover such as wood piles and avoid food sources such as bird seed.

• Keep lawn furniture and children’s toys away from the yard edges and wooded areas.

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