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Experts Give Advice On Ticks With Increase Expected This Spring

DUBOIS, Pa. — Spring has arrived in Pennsylvania, but people aren’t the only ones enjoying the warm-up.

Insect scientists of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) are forecasting an early spike in pest populations across the country this season.

Experts said in Pennsylvania, a cold, rainy spring and early summer will allow ticks to thrive due to favorable humidity.

“Adult ticks are only about three millimeters in length and most of the disease is transmitted by the juvenile form of the ticks, which is even smaller than that,” said Dr. Christopher Conti of Penn Highlands DuBois.

Conti said the easiest way to protect yourself from ticks is insect repellent and by being vigilant.

He said home remedies like drowning the tick in nail polish remover or Vaseline may kill the tick, but those tactics don’t guarantee you’ll kill the tick’s mouth.

“We recommend using some fine tipped tweezers, getting as close to the skin, pulling with a forceful steady upward pull and not twisting or jerking,” said Conti. “What usually ends up happening is the person pulls out the body of the tick, but leaves the mouth parts still attached.”

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.

Dr. Andrew Brosius of the Animal Hospital of DuBois said the first thing pet owners should do is control their pet’s environment by keeping the grass cut short and the yard clear of leaves and debris.

Brosius said the most common place you’ll find ticks on your pet is their head, ears, feet and legs.

Brosius said pets may not get sick immediately if they have Lyme Disease.

“Mainly with dogs we see Lyme Disease and Anaplasmosis,” said Brosius. “With Lyme Disease, a pet may become tired, not eating, running a fever or limping on one or more legs. With Anaplasmosis, maybe some of those same symptoms.”

Brosius said all dogs should be vaccinated for Lyme Disease.

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.

Conti said it takes 36 to 48 hours for Lyme disease to transmit, so early symptoms of the disease can be hard to detect.

“A lot of the initial early symptoms are common symptoms like fever, fatigue, muscle aches and joint pain,” said Conti. “There is also a symptom called Erythema Migrans, which looks like a bullseye on the skin. Only about 75 percent of patients will have that rash.”

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