What is Le Moyne Doing About Lyme Disease?

What is Le Moyne Doing About Lyme Disease?

Despite the rising number of Lyme disease cases in Onondaga County and an increase in the number of deer at Le Moyne, the Wellness Center does not view Lyme disease as a high priority, according to a college health official.

“There’s other, more significant things that we think about and deal with on a regular basis,” said Jennifer Thieben, a Physician Assistant at the Le Moyne Wellness Center. “If a kid has a tick or something we do what we need to do to treat them, but it’s not an overwhelming issue for our students.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] deer are frequent carriers of the blacklegged tick, commonly known as the deer tick, which are transmitters of Lyme disease. An increase in the number of deer seen on Le Moyne’s campus could mean an increased risk of students and faculty contracting Lyme disease.

Last year Rick Bailey of Campus Security told The Dolphin he would see about two to seven deer on campus at a time. This year, Campus Security Officer Al Overend regularly sees three groups of deer on campus: a group of two females, a group of three females and six babies, and a group of two bucks. This is an increase of six deer present on campus.

“In the morning you can see them by the woods around the track. They eventually make their way up behind the townhouses,” Overend said.

Lyme disease cases have been on the rise in Onondaga County. According to Syracuse.com, in 2000 there were only a few reported cases of Lyme disease. In 2014, the number of new reported Lyme Disease cases rose to 40, meaning there was a total 401 new cases from 2000 to 2014.

At least one graduate of Le Moyne believes she contracted Lyme disease during her time at the college. In an article she wrote for The Dolphin last year, Marisa Duval reported that a 2015 graduate, Valerie Proano, was diagnosed with the disease after she was bit by a tick on campus during her junior year.

There have also been other students who found ticks on them while at Le Moyne. Two years ago, Thieben told The Dolphin that 10 students reported having ticks on them. This past spring, the Wellness Center saw about three additional cases of students with ticks, making 13 cases in the past two years.

Other colleges in the Central New York area have noted the risk of ticks on campus. According to an article from Newhouse Communications Center News, Syracuse University’s news website, SU’s Health Services has seen numerous tick cases, even as much as two cases in one week. One of the main things their health center saw this past summer was cases of Lyme Disease.

According to Janelle Perry of Syracuse University’s Health Services, they are not currently reaching out to students and informing them about the risks of Lyme disease. They do, however, provide links to information regarding ticks and Lyme Disease on their website for students to view.

To prevent Lyme disease, Thieben recommends using an insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved clothing to cover up, and checking yourself for ticks after you’re done with outdoor activities. If you do find a tick on you, the first thing to do is immediately remove it, which can be done right at the Wellness Center. Thieben notes that many students come to the Wellness Center after attempting to remove the tick themselves, but were unable to remove the head.

Sometimes people try all these crazy methods and grab them with tweezers and things like that, and they’ll actually pull the tick off but leave the head behind,” Thieben said. “[The tick head] can still transmit the disease, so you need a slow and meticulous removal, where you grab it right behind the head and remove it slowly. They release and then it’s done.”

Thieben also noted that after the tick is removed, students should watch for symptoms of Lyme disease and a rash forming at the site of the bite.

The CDC website lists the symptoms of Lyme disease, which are divided between early symptoms [up to 30 days post-bite] and later symptoms [days to months post-bite]. The website also gives information on prevention, tick removal, Lyme disease diagnosis, and treatment.