Lyme on the Rise in PA

Lyme Disease

Did you know that Pennsylvania leads the nation in Lyme Disease cases?

If that isn’t scary enough, scientists believe that this year could be one of the worst. They are predicting a surge in the number of Lyme-carrying ticks beginning in April and lasting into early summer. 

But that is only one part of the problem. It started about two years ago with an unusually large acorn crop in the Northeast. That fueled a population boom of white-footed mice last year.

Mice represent the most available target for the black-legged or deer tick and routinely serve as major carriers of the Lyme bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi. Each tiny mouse is host to dozens of ticks who feed on blood and pass on Lyme disease.

Jackie Rosenberger, a Shippensburg University student counting deer ticks for a research project, dragged a white sheet across the Game Lands in Cumberland County in early April. The square yard of flannel bounced over leaves and snagged on greenbriar and raspberry canes. She picked deer ticks from the sheet — up to 40 in 8 minutes.

Pennsylvania leads the nation in Lyme disease cases – 7,351 confirmed cases in 2015 or nearly a quarter of all U.S. cases. The CDC said the actual number of Lyme cases is about 10 times higher because many illnesses go unreported.

“Pennsylvania is the bull’s eye for Lyme disease,” said Harold Cohick, president of the Chambersburg Lyme Alliance. 

What can you do to stay safe? Follow these Lyme Disease prevention tips.

Lyme Disease Prevention Tips

In the spring, summer, and fall, avoid tick-infested areas.

• Check your dog for ticks twice each day. Look over his entire body, including hidden crevices in the ear, under his collar, in the webs of his feet and under his tail.

Use tick repellents. There are natural anti-tick products on the market, however, in Lyme endemic regions of the U.S., many veterinarians will recommend you use a chemical repellent.

Since up to 95 percent of dogs exposed to Lyme disease never get sick from it, the real risk is to you, the dog owner. For your family’s health, it is important to be vigilant about tick prevention.

“The risk to humans is going to be high starting this spring,” said Felicia Keesing, a biologist at Bard College in the Hudson Valley, who has spent years researching tick-borne diseases. “We want to get the word out so people can take precautions. Our dream is that we don’t see this translate to human cases.”



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