New Jersey Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal will be at Shark River Park in Wall Township today alongside the Monmouth County Health Department to raise awareness about tick-borne diseases and encourage residents to take the needed steps to protect themselves and their families.

Monmouth County Health Department officials will also perform a demonstration showing how tick surveillance is conducted.

Although May, June and July are the peak months for tick-borne disease, health officials say that ticks that transmit disease are active throughout the year.

Ticks in New Jersey specifically can transmit any number of diseases, with the most common being Lyme Disease.

"If you've been bitten by a tick, it is important to check for symptoms and talk to a healthcare provider," Commissioner Elnahal said in a statement. "Early signs of tick-borne diseases may include skin rash, tiredness, fever/chills, headache, stiff neck, muscle aches, joint pain and dizziness."

Lyme disease is caused by bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected Ixodes scapularis ticks but is not spread from person to person.

"Monmouth County's unique tick identification and surveillance programs are critical in the fight against Lyme Disease and other tick related illnesses," Monmouth County Freeholder Patrick Impreveduto said. "Coupled with our strong educational programs, we hope to greatly decrease these issues to ensure the health of our residents."

Last year, there were more than 5,000 cases of Lyme Disease diagnosed in New Jersey and more than 500 of those cases were in Monmouth County.

So far this year, there have been more than 2,100 cases of Lyme disease diagnosed across the state.

The Department of Health launched its Lyme disease prevention campaign last month to educate the public about how to prevent tick-borne diseases.

The campaign includes billboards around the state, digital advertising and a promotional social media campaign about tick prevention with the slogan, "Don't Let a Tick Make You Sick" and the hashtag #TargetTicksNJ.

NJ Health Officials say to prevent Lyme disease, it's important to avoid tick bites by using insect repellent, wearing protective clothing, avoiding wooded areas with dense shrubs, checking yourself, children and pets after time outdoors and keeping shrubs and lawns trimmed.

How are the ways ticks can spread disease, according to the CDC:

  • Depending on the tick species and its stage of life, preparing to feed can take from 10 minutes to 2 hours. When the tick finds a feeding spot, it grasps the skin and cuts into the surface.
  • The tick then inserts its feeding tube. Many species also secrete a cement-like substance that keeps them firmly attached during the meal. The feeding tube can have barbs which help keep the tick in place.
  • Ticks also can secrete small amounts of saliva with anesthetic properties so that the animal or person can't feel that the tick has attached itself. If the tick is in a sheltered spot, it can go unnoticed.
  • A tick will suck the blood slowly for several days. If the host animal has a blood-borne infection, the tick will ingest the pathogens with the blood.
  • Small amounts of saliva from the tick may also enter the skin of the host animal during the feeding process. If the tick contains a pathogen, the organism may be transmitted to the host animal in this way.
  • After feeding, most ticks will drop off and prepare for the next life stage. At its next feeding, it can then transmit an acquired disease to the new host.

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