If You Go Down To The Woods Today
MOSQUITOES & WEST NILE DISEASE
West Nile is spread to people through infected mosquitoes so try to minimize their breeding opportunities and opportunities to bite you:
Get rid of any standing water around your home/garden, e.g. in old containers, flower pots, puddles, ditches, etc., and remove anything that may collect water.
Remove stagnant water from pools and pool covers.
Wear insect repellent and light coloured clothes with long sleeves, and trousers.
Keep mosquitoes outside.
Keep doors, windows and screens closed and make sure there are no holes.
This is a relatively rare disease in NY, although it is more prevalent in other areas of the US so keep the tips in mind for vacations.
A useful website for further information is
This plant is quite prolific in the area and may be in your garden or near woodland trails if you go walking. If you so much as brush against it, the oil that the plant produces causes varying degrees of irritation from skin inflammation to blistering - it can look quite nasty and makes you itch like mad.
No matter how badly it drives you crazy DON’T TOUCH THE AFFECTED AREA. You’ll spread it further and because you’re hot (in the summer!) your pores are open allowing it into the skin more easily. Wash your hands then wash the infected area with cold water, then wash your hands again. Then take a shower.
The best defence is recognizing it and avoiding it. The old adage is “Leaves of three, leave it be”. For lots of poison ivy photos, have a look at www.poisonivy.aesir.com.
TICKS and LYME DISEASE
Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection carried by deer ticks which, if untreated, can cause a number of health problems, some serious. The ticks live in shady, moist areas and cling onto tall grass, brush and shrubs up to 24 inches off the ground, also in lawns and gardens, especially at the edge of woods around old stone walls.
What to do:
Stay away from brushy areas and tall grass, especially in spring and autumn.
Wear light colours so the ticks can be easily seen, long sleeves, long trousers tucked into socks.
Apply tick repellent to skin and clothing, especially from the waist down.
Check skin regularly.
If tick is found, grasp it with fine tweezers near the mouth area and as close to your skin as possible.
Firmly pull the tick outwards using steady force.
Not all ticks carry Lyme Disease so if you’ve been bitten it’s not necessarily a disaster. If you want to check, keep the tick in a small Ziplock bag with some alcohol and contact Westchester County Health Department on (914) 813-5185.
The first sign of infection is often a rash, red or pink patch, or bump near the bitten area. This may be accompanied by fever, chills, headache, muscle/joint pain and general malaise. Symptoms can get worse so contact a doctor who can carry out a blood test to confirm the disease. The blood test can sometimes give a negative result even if Lyme Disease is present so your doctor may well prescribe antibiotics anyway.
NOTE: There is not always evidence of a bite or a tick so checking the skin is not foolproof. A 7-year old in the group had it and his only symptoms were a sudden inability to walk and then later, swollen knees. The good news is, when caught early, a long course of antibiotics will clear it up completely with no further ill effects.
For more information, tick pictures and rash photos, etc. check out the website: