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Niagara County Lyme disease ticks concentrated in Gasport

LOCKPORT – The ticks in Niagara County that tested positive for the Lyme disease bacteria were concentrated in the Gasport area, the county Health Department said Wednesday.

Environmental Health Director Paul R. Dicky said, “Of samples collected to date in Niagara County, 41 ticks were positive for Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme bacteria.” Those ticks were collected between the Erie Canal towpath and Rochester Road in Gasport and in the surrounding Town of Royalton.

The department began dragging for ticks in 2015, after infected ticks began showing up in other Western New York counties. The technique involves dragging a piece of white fabric through bushy areas and brush frequented by deer, rodents and birds. Environmental Health workers, dressed in protective clothing and gloves, picked the ticks off the fabric and placed them in containers, which were sent to a state entomologist for testing.

Deputy Public Health Director Victoria Pearson said Tuesday night that 80 percent of the ticks tested were positive for Lyme disease. The County Legislature voted Tuesday to appropriate $1,000 to print a brochure on how to avoid the disease.

Public Health Director Daniel J. Stapleton said, “This time of year presents particularly high risk of contact with ticks, unless people learn how to protect themselves. When in wooded and grassy areas, wear clothing that covers all skin and is light-colored to see ticks better. Tuck shirts in pants and pants in socks. Use recommended repellents and follow label directions. Afterward, check the body carefully for ticks. Remove any ticks by grasping the mouthparts with tweezers as close to the skin as possible.”

Pets also should be checked for ticks, Stapleton said.

Dicky said, “Not all deer ticks carry Lyme bacteria. Once positive ticks are found in one area of the county, however, it is likely other areas will host some infected ticks, as they are carried by animals that move around.” Dicky said his staff is only testing ticks found through field surveillance and is not accepting ticks from medical providers or the public.