University at Albany

Lyme Disease


What is Lyme disease?

    • Lyme disease is a bacterial infection, spread by the bite of a deer tick, that can cause skin, heart, nervous system and arthritic problems.

Where is the tick found?

    • Infected ticks are concentrated on Long Island, along the lower Hudson Valley and in the Capital District. Ticks have been found in most of New York State.

What does the tick look like?

    • The adult tick is no bigger than a sesame seed and therefore difficult to see. It is black and red before feeding. After it has filled with blood, it is the size of a small pea and is blue/black in color.

How can I avoid being bitten?

    • Stay in the center of woodland paths. Wear light-colored long sleeved shirts and long pants, with bottoms tucked into socks or boots. Check yourself, pets and children often while outside. Check again at home.

What about tick repellents?

    • Repellents containing the chemical DEET or permethrin provide some protection against ticks. When used improperly, however, repellents may pose a risk of adverse health effects. To reduce these risks, carefully read and follow all label directions before each use. Do NOT allow children to apply repellents.

When am I most likely to be bitten?

    • Ticks can feed during any month but most commonly feed form April through October. June and July are the highest risk months for human exposure.

What should I do if I am bitten?

    • A tick must feed for many hours to transmit the disease. If you find a tick, use tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull steadily and firmly. Apply antiseptic. Save the tick by placing it in alcohol. You doctor may want to see it.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

    • Symptoms may occur within a month of infection, often as a large circular rash with a clear center. Flu-like symptoms are also common. Within weeks or months of infection, nervous system involvement, including meningitis, encephalitis or facial palsy can occur. Heart problems may also occur. Months or years later, chronic arthritis may develop.

Is there any way to treat Lyme disease?

    • Lyme disease is treatable with antibiotics. The earlier treatment begins, the easier it is to prevent long term problems.

For more information please see: the Lime Disease and Tick Bite Fact Sheet