The state Department of Health today announced plans to enhance and expand its tick surveillance and education efforts to safeguard New Yorkers from tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease.
The stepped-up efforts come as the state confronts a growing number of ticks, tick-borne diseases, and an increase in the geographic distribution of ticks.
“New York has long been a national leader in tick collection and testing and through our actions to inform the public on how to best protect themselves, their children, and their pets from tick bites,” said Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “The Department of Health’s expanded tick surveillance and education efforts will help ensure that New Yorkers have the information they need to better avoid tick borne disease.”
Earlier this summer, the department expanded tick collection efforts in Saratoga County after confirming three human cases of Powassan virus, a rare viral disease that can cause symptoms ranging from mild flu-like symptoms to life threatening encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).
Officials said the disease remains extremely rare in New York state with only 26 confirmed cases since 2000. The three cases in Saratoga County are the only confirmed cases of Powassan this year.
As part of the expanded collection efforts in Saratoga County, the department visited 30 unique locations and collected approximately 2,700 ticks for testing at the Wadsworth Center, officials said. Five positive pools, comprised of 22 ticks, tested positive for Powassan.