As lawmakers take action, people need to ramp up their own prevention against tick-borne illness

As the temperature rises, so does the battle against Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.

In Albany, the state Senate approved $1 million for research, education, prevention and treatment options and to fight the ongoing increase in the illnesses. Awaiting Assembly approval, the funding would be shared in the cause by Cornell University, New York State Association of County Health Officials, SUNY Adirondack, the state Department of Health, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and Cornell Cooperative Extension.

A measure introduced in the Assembly would set aside funds for research into a possible vaccine. Meanwhile, “eco-friendly” tick control treatments are targeted for certain public lands and the state is expanding the use of deer feeding stations that automatically apply tick treatment to deer as they eat. A new public awareness campaign is aimed at hunters, fishermen and hikers with tips on avoiding ticks. And private researchers are being recruited to collaborate on new medical tests to detect Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses.

Still, health officials warn nothing can replace people taking their own precautions. That includes avoiding areas where ticks are most prevalent like tall grassy areas, covering your legs and other exposed areas with clothing, and using effective tick repellants.

New York state now has the third highest number of confirmed cases of Lyme disease in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Research from the state’s Department of Health found more than half of adult deer ticks carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

Other illnesses from tick bites include Borrelia miyamotoi disease, or BMD. BMD symptoms are similar to Lyme disease: A person with BMD may first suspect the flu. The disease often strikes with a fever, chills, and a severe headache. An infected person may also suffer from an upset stomach and muscle and joint pain. Long-lasting fatigue is common, too.

Ontario County Public Health offers tips in case you find a tick on yourself or someone else. First: Don’t panic. Avoid "upsetting" the tick and the person with the tick. Simply grasp the tick with tweezers as close to the skin as possible and then pull gently and steadily until the tick comes out. Wash the area with soap and water. Redness at the site should resolve in a few days. If signs of skin infection develop (redness, warmth, pain, etc.), call your healthcare provider.

For more on tick-borne disease and protecting yourself, visit Ontario County Public Health;NYS Department of Health and Lyme Action Network.