Wellness Wednesday: Oswego County Health Director calls on local doctors to help fight tick crisis

Wellness Wednesday

OSWEGO COUNTY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Every summer, you’ll hear researchers and doctors say ‘it’s the worst tick season yet.’ The reality is, they’re not wrong.

The issue is getting worse each year, and in Oswego County, the public health director is pleading with doctors to help.

Health Director Jiancheng Huang has been following the research from Upstate Medical University’s Tick Testing Program.

Inside the lab, Saravanan Thangamani and his team are testing ticks that have been mailed to them.

On June 10, researchers in the lab received 221 ticks, a single-day record high since the program began in 2019.

Courtesy: Upstate Tick Testing Program

The data tells an alarming story.

From April to May of 2020, 644 ticks from around New York were tested. This year, that number more than quadrupled in the same timeframe. The number of ticks carrying diseases also went up.

“They are appearing in new counties that before never recorded that.”

Saravanan Thangamani

In that same timeframe (April to May of 2020 compared with April to May of 2021) Oswego County jumped from 17 ticks tested to 73.

Huang knows local doctors are treating more patients for tick-borne infections like Lyme disease and Babesia. Now, he’s calling on them to go a step further and report every case to local and state health departments.

We need more data, and with data, we can convince state and federal governments to get funding to do more prevention, to do more research.

Jiancheng Huang, Oswego County Public Health Director

Right now, there’s not enough research, which means cases of Lyme disease are often missed.

“I heard somebody, because of delayed treatment and, a lady, she even cannot hold a plate,” Huang said.

It’s cases like that one that concern Haung the most, because as more infected ticks spread through Central New York, more people will suffer.

“Pay attention and really, now is the time to prevent tick bites.”

Jiancheng Huang

If you find a tick on you, your child, or your pet, you’re encouraged to mail it to the lab for testing. You can do so at no cost aside from the shipping label.

Visit nyticks.org to learn more about the program and tick submission.

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