Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi. In New York and neighboring states, it is spread by the bite of the blacklegged tick (deer tick), Ixodes scapularis. Some deer ticks in Ontario County are infected with Lyme bacteria.
Cases of human Lyme disease are reportable to the county health department in New York State. Since 2002, there have been 34 cases (suspected, probable, or confirmed) reported in Ontario County; half of these between 2010 and 2012.
In most cases, a tick must be attached for at least 36-48 hours to cause infection. Ticks can attach to any part of the body but are often found in hard-to-see areas such as the groin, armpits, and scalp. Immature ticks called nymphs are responsible for most human infections. They are tiny and hard to see. Nymphs are active during the spring and summer months.
Adult ticks can also cause Lyme disease, but less frequently. Because they are larger and easier to see they tend to be removed before they have time to transmit the bacteria. Adult ticks are most active during cooler months.