SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – The first official day of winter is less than three weeks away, but the dangers from disease-spreading ticks aren’t vanishing with the changing of the seasons.
That’s because ticks still hide around backyards and home foundations when colder weather arrives, according to Upstate Medical University Professor Dr. Saravanan Thangamani.
“Ticks are smart,” Dr. Thangamani said. “They adapt to colder weather by slowing down their metabolism.”
Dr. Thangamani’s lab is five months into a new study that asks New York State residents to mail in ticks collected from their pets, family members or yards. Dr. Thangamani’s research team wants to track tick populations to better understand how and where they spread diseases like Lyme disease to humans. The researchers log every tick they receive by zip code, date and disease.
“The majority of the ticks we got are from Onondaga County,” Dr. Thangamani said.
Thirty-six percent of the ticks Dr. Thangamani’s lab examined in early November tested positive for Lyme disease, which can be debilitating.
St. Joseph’s Church Pastor Father Peter Worn has suffered from chronic Lyme disease for more than two years. His body didn’t respond to the normal course of antibiotics he was prescribed after he was diagnosed. His symptoms have progressed from headaches and fatigue to loss of balance and muscle pain.
“There are times when I’m searching for words,” Father Worn said. “I’m just not as present as I’m supposed to be.”
New York residents interested in contributing ticks they find to Dr. Thangamani’s study can find more information here.