Monday, March 22, 2021

By Avoiding Ticks You Can Avoid Lyme Disease, Other Serious Illnesses; DEP Tick, Mosquito Surveillance Typically Starts In April

On March 22, the departments of Health, DCNR and DEP reminded Pennsylvania residents and visitors to avoid ticks by taking precautions when spending time outdoors as the weather warms.

“Spending time outdoors and participating in physical activity is a key part of living a healthy life,” said Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam. “While we encourage safe recreation, we must be aware of ticks and the serious diseases they carry. As Lyme disease and related tick-borne diseases become more prevalent in Pennsylvania, it is important to protect yourself when spending time outdoors.”

Blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks, are the most common carrier of Lyme disease and Anaplasmosis. Ticks typically thrive in tall grass, brush, and wooded areas, but deer ticks have been found in every county in the Commonwealth and can live in any habitat.

Common signs of a tick disease include fever, headache, chills, and muscle aches. Lyme disease is often characterized by a bullseye-like rash, although Lyme disease may not always present itself with this obvious sign. 

If you believe you have been bitten by a tick, it is important to speak to a doctor immediately.

Ticks are most likely to infect humans during the late spring and summer but can also infect humans year-round.

“As climate change continues to warm our winters, we’re seeing higher tick populations surviving months that used to be too cold to survive,” said Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “As the number of ticks continues to rise, so do the odds of tick-borne disease transmission. We must remain diligent – both in protecting ourselves from bites, but also in seeking long-term solutions to address climate change.”

The Wolf Administration reminds Pennsylvania residents and visitors of simple ways to reduce their chances of being bitten by ticks: 

--  Cover exposed skin with lightweight and light-colored clothing

--  Avoid tick-infested habitats such as areas dense with shrubbery or tall grass

--  Use an insect repellent containing 20 percent or more DEET

--  Once returning home, immediately check yourself, children, and pets for ticks 

--  Take a shower immediately to remove ticks that may be attached to skin 

--  If possible, dry clothing and gear in a dryer to kill any ticks 

“Whether visiting one of our 121 state parks, hiking our more than 2.2 million acres of state forestland, or enjoying your own backyard, we must be cognizant of our surroundings,” said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Dunn. “Proper personal care and actions can keep us safe while enjoying the outdoors.” 

Tick & Mosquito Surveillance

In 2020, cooperating counties and the Department of Environmental Protection began monitoring and surveillance activities about the second week in April for mosquitoes and ticks that carry West Nile Virus, Lyme and other diseases affecting people.  Read more here.

DEP is in the third year of a five-year tick surveillance program being done in cooperation with the Department of Health to better understand tick population trends and the diseases they carry. Read more here.

One result of the study is finding the invasive longhorned tick, that can spread disease in wildlife, livestock and people, has spread into seven counties in Pennsylvania-- Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Franklin, Montgomery, Northampton and Philadelphia.

Tick sampling also found a rising percentage of adult blacklegged ticks infected with Lyme disease-- about half last year-- and about 12 percent of blacklegged ticks have been found carrying Anaplasmosis, which can infect people. 

The longhorned tick is also a known carrier of Anaplasmosis.

The Tick Research Lab of PA at East Stroudsburg University offers tick testing services and lots of other information on tick identification and tick-borne diseases.

There were 10,800 cases of Lyme disease in Pennsylvania in 2018 and 108 cases of Anaplasmosis.  Read more here.

For more information, visit the Department of Health’s Lyme Disease webpage and DEP’s West Nile Virus Program website.

Resource Link:

Penn State Extension: Common ticks And Tick-Borne Diseases In Pennsylvania

Related Articles:

-- Counties, DEP Began Surveillance For Disease Carrying Mosquitoes, Ticks This Week; Longhorned Tick Expands Into 7 Counties

--DEP/Health Announce New Statewide Tick Surveillance Program, Part Of A 5-Year Study Of Tick-borne Illnesses In PA

[Posted: March 22, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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