“Lyme disease is the most common disease spread by ticks in New York State, making it vital for Long Islanders to know how to protect themselves when in areas likely to have ticks and when to seek care if a tick bites them,” said Jasmine Philip, DO, Catholic Health Primary Care Physician.


What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by a bite from an infected tick. 

“Anyone can get Lyme disease, but frequently spending time outdoors in grassy or wooded areas increases your risk of a tick bite and subsequent infection,” said Dr. Philip.

Ticks that carry Lyme disease live in moist, shady areas near the ground. They prefer grassy areas in lawns and gardens and shrubs and bushes less than 24 inches tall. Ticks cannot fly or jump. They attach to people or animals through direct contact.

Although the ticks that cause Lyme disease are present year-round, most bites happen during the summer when ticks are most active.  


What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

“Lyme disease symptoms usually appear within three to 30 days of exposure,” said Dr. Philip. “The most common is one or more circular red rashes that resemble a bull's eye.”

Other symptoms include:

  • Excessive fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Heart problems
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Temporary facial paralysis

Call your doctor immediately if you show any of the following. 

  • A rash, especially if it resembles a bull's eye
  • Any redness or swelling in the area of the bite
  •  Any sign of infection, like a fever

What is the treatment for Lyme disease?

Treatment is most successful in the early stages of infection. Your doctor may recommend antibiotics to prevent further illness.  


Can Lyme disease be prevented?

Follow these tips from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDH) to prevent tick bites that can cause Lyme disease:

  • Frequently check your clothes and any exposed skin when outdoors.
  • Wear light-colored clothing to make it easier to see any ticks that become attached.
  • Do not sit on the ground or stone walls.
  • Keep long hair tied back.
  • Stay on cleared pathways and trails.
  • Wear enclosed shoes, long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants into your socks to limit access to skin.
  • Use insect repellant when outdoors. Follow the directions and apply carefully.
  • Wear gloves when gardening.
  • Bathe or shower to wash off or more easily find ticks. (Preferably, within two hours of being outdoors.)
  • Do a final full-body check for ticks at the end of the day.

How do I safely remove a tick?

“Do not panic if you find a tick on your clothing or body,” said Dr. Philip. “There are steps you can take to remove a tick safely. Removing a tick within 36 hours reduces the risk of disease.”

Follow the NYSDH guidelines to remove a tick safely: 

  • If the tick is still crawling and not attached, remove and discard it with a tweezer. 
  • If the tick is attached to your skin:
    • Use tweezers and grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible.
    • Pull upward slowly and steadily to release the tick’s mouth. Do not squeeze or squash the tick. 
    • Do not use heat, matches, nail polish, nail polish remover or petroleum jelly, which can increase your chance of infection.
    • Place the tick in a small container of rubbing alcohol to kill it.
    • After removing the tick, wash the area thoroughly with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. 
    • Note the date you removed the tick and the location of the bite if you show symptoms later and need to see a doctor. 

“Monitor the area for 30 days after removing the tick to ensure no sign of infection,” said Dr. Philip. “Make sure to call your doctor if you are showing symptoms.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers helpful resources for learning about Lyme disease.

Find Care at Catholic Health

Find a Catholic Health doctor near you. Or call 866-MY-LI-DOC (866-695-4362).

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