Although many of us have enjoyed the recent milder winters, the lack of colder temperatures and snow has led to a steady increase in the population of ticks within our region.

The Chautauqua County Health Department have been working diligently to spread the word on how you can keep yourself and your family safe this season.

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, and the Chautauqua County Health Department has been busy getting information out to residents.

“We’re just trying to promote the idea that ticks are out there," stated Jessica Wuerstle, Chautauqua County Director of Environmental Health. "We are trying to educate people in what they need to look for, and how they can protect themselves.” 

Reported cases of Lyme disease have doubled in Chautauqua County since 2014.

This disease is caused by bites from infected blacklegged ticks, commonly known as deer ticks.

There are treatments available to those who have been bit by an infected insect, a simple antibiotic prescribed by a medical physician can often be used to counteract any ill effects.

“It's not always necessary to use antibiotics after getting bit by a tick," stated Wuerstle. "However, if a medical provider does decide to proceed with post exposure treatment, it’s a simple process.”

Experts across the board also advise a proactive approach to avoid Lyme disease.

When going out to enjoy nature, cover any exposed skin and wear closed toe shoes. There are also many different types of insect repellants on the market that can help keep ticks at bay.

They also encourage people to wear light colored clothing as the insects can be spotted easier.

Wuerstle also notes that pets can suffer from tick bites as well, and need to be checked regularly when they are exploring outside.

Experts want everyone to be able to enjoy the out of doors but advise caution when it comes to brush and wooded areas. 

"It doesn't take a long time to check over yourself, family members, and your pets after being outside," Wuerstle added. "It is simple to do and very effective to prevent Lyme disease."

For more information about tick and Lyme disease prevention efforts, visit here.