Pennsylvania health officials warn about tick-borne diseases
With longer days and warmer spring weather on the way, Pennsylvania health officials want all residents to be aware of Lyme disease and ticks as they spend more time outdoors.
“Lyme disease can be a very serious illness, and left untreated, can cause life-threatening complications,” Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said.
“Ticks that carry Lyme disease can be found in any part of our state, whether rural, suburban and even urban areas. It is essential that people who will be outdoors, whether hiking, visiting a park or walking their dog take steps to protect themselves by dressing properly. After being outside, it is essential to check yourself for ticks and to shower right away.”
Pennsylvania cases of Lyme disease are among the highest in the country, and ticks carrying Lyme disease have been found in each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.
In 2017, there were 11,900 cases of Lyme disease in the state. Ticks that carry Lyme disease can be found in nearly any location.
Governor Tom Wolf has continued his commitment to addressing Lyme disease by proposing $2.5 million dollars in the 2019-2020 budget toward Lyme disease education and prevention.
This sustained funding, which matches what was in the 2018-2019 budget, will continue to assist in efforts to build a more robust Lyme disease program, conduct surveillance for ticks in Pennsylvania and improve participation in tick-borne disease surveillance with health care providers.
Pennsylvania is home to many wonderful scenic areas, which is a huge draw to people looking to spend time outdoors.
Learn to protect yourself and your family
Those who are spending time outdoors should wear long sleeve shirts and long pants and use an insect repellent with DEET. After finishing time outdoors, it is important to thoroughly check yourself for ticks, promptly remove any attached ticks and take a shower. Showering will also help any unattached ticks to be washed off. Make sure to change clothes and place worn clothes in the dryer at a high temperature to kill any ticks that might remain. Check pets that spend time outside too.
“Just as strong sun and severe weather demand outdoors enthusiasts be cognizant of their surroundings, the spread of ticks and related Lyme disease is important to be aware of and prepared for when heading outdoors or entering our state parks and forestlands where ticks may be prevalent,” Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said.
“DCNR is committed to educating both our visitors and employees on the best practices, ensuring safe play and work afield.”
Many persons with Lyme disease are not aware that they have been bitten by a tick, since ticks can be very small and hard to see. If a circular rash that looks like a bulls-eye appears, you should consult with a physician, as you may have Lyme disease. However, not all persons with Lyme disease develop a rash. Other symptoms are non-specific and include fever, fatigue, headache, muscle aches and joint pain.
If you develop any signs or symptoms of Lyme disease, see your healthcare provider immediately.