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Governor Sununu Proclaims May 2023 Lyme Disease Awareness Month In New Hampshire
Concord, NH – Today, Governor Chris Sununu proclaimed May as Lyme Disease Awareness Month in New Hampshire. Lyme disease is the most common tickborne illness, approximately 476,000 people may get Lyme disease each year in the United States, and approximately 1,170 people in New Hampshire are newly diagnosed with Lyme disease annually. The Governor’s proclamation encouraged residents and visitors to practice tickborne disease prevention strategies.
“We all know someone who has been affected by Lyme Disease,” said Governor Chris Sununu. “As the weather warms and we spend more time outdoors, it is important we all take time to educate ourselves on Lyme Disease, and take simple steps to prevent tick bites.”
According to a survey commissioned by Tick Free NH, last fall 4 in 10 New Hampshire residents thought they faced low or no risk of contracting Lyme disease. Understanding risk of infection equates to proper tick protection practice.
Tickborne illnesses are on the rise in New Hampshire, in particular, New Hampshire has experienced the third-highest increase in reported cases of Lyme disease, following Maine and Vermont. There are five different tickborne illnesses in New Hampshire: Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Powassan virus and Borrelia miyamotoi. All of these illnesses are transmitted by the blacklegged tick, formerly called the deer tick. The NH Bureau of Infectious Disease Control monitors cases of tickborne illness in the State and develops educational programs focusing on how to prevent tickborne illnesses.
“The risk of tick bites begins to increase as soon as the snow melts,” said Dr. Benjamin Chan, State Epidemiologist. “It is important that people take steps now to prevent tick bites and tick-transmitted diseases by using an effective tick-repellant, wearing long sleeves and pants when outside, and checking their bodies and their pets for ticks every time they are outdoors, especially if going into the woods or areas where there is long grass and brush.”
The continued increasing number of cases indicates the need for greater awareness and prevention efforts across the State. Rodents and deer are important hosts for ticks to survive in our environment. As we finally enter spring, when tickborne illnesses start to increase, it is very important to consider ways to make your home and yard less attractive to these animals.
“In New Hampshire we continue to bring together public and private resources to help prevent NH citizens from getting tick borne diseases like Lyme," said Frank Grossman, founder of Tick Free NH. "A recent project is with NEWVEC (New England Regional Center of Vector-borne Diseases) to understand what families are doing to protect their yards from ticks and what strategies are working. Anyone in New Hampshire can join in on this project by going to newvec.org/itch. By all working together we can lower the number of tickborne disease cases in our state and region."
Awareness is key, more than half (58%) of New Hampshire residents say that over the past year they have always checked themselves for ticks when in wooded, grassy, or brushy areas and, even better, if they saw prevention messaging, 9 in 10 took steps to protect themselves against tick bites: checking themselves for ticks, using insect repellent, and wearing protective clothing. However, 49% cited incorrect removal methods – remember, always use tweezers or a tick removal tool (like a scoop), and pull straight up.
Lyme disease is a serious illness that can affect people of any age, but we can all enjoy the New Hampshire outdoors by taking these important steps:
- Treat shoes and clothing with Permethrin - a chemical that repels and kills ticks, it is safe when dry and good for many washes.
- Apply tick repellent every time you go into a wooded, grassy, or brushy area – this includes gardening or playing in your lawn. Safe repellents with 20-30% DEET are effective, and there are other EPA repellants effective against ticks as well.
- Shower after being outside to wash off any unattached ticks, try for within 20 minutes of outdoor activity.
- Conduct a daily tick check for yourself, children and pets.
- Wear light-colored protective clothing and tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants into your socks. Ticks only climb up Put your clothes in the dryer on high for 10 minutes (or one hour for damp clothes) to kill ticks after being out of doors
To learn about Tick Free NH, order low- or no-cost materials for your home, classroom, childcare center, camp or health care practice, or sponsor a New Hampshire classroom with educational materials, visit TickFreeNH.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Lyme disease and other tickborne diseases, visit the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services Tickborne Diseases page or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.