The Lead

Wolf admin. officials push for tick-borne illness awareness

By: - July 27, 2021 1:51 pm

Acting Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson speaks during a news conference on Wednesday, 7/27/21 (screen capture).

With summer in full swing, senior Wolf administration officials are highlighting the importance of tick-borne illness awareness and prevention.

Acting state Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson, said that with warmer weather comes increased risk for tick bites — and Pennsylvania’s tick risks are higher than ever.

“Every single county within the state does have ticks that carry lyme disease,” Johnson said during a Tuesday morning news conference at Boyd Big Tree Preserve in Dauphin County. She added that ticks can also carry other diseases, such as anaplasmosis and Powassan virus. 

Symptoms of tick-borne lyme disease to look out for include fever, chills, body aches, headaches and the tell-tale “bulls-eye” shaped rash around the original tick bite.

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn recommended that Pennsylvanians spending time outdoors take several precautions to protect themselves from tick-borne illnesses like lyme disease, including:

  • Wear full-length, light-colored clothing.
  • Use an EPA-approved tick repellent spray.
  • Avoid tick-ridden environments like dense wooded areas and tall grass.
  • Carefully check for ticks on the body and clothing after time outdoors.

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell said that the Department has collected doubled the amount of blacklegged tick nymphs compared to last year during its annual tick survey. Nymph ticks are especially concerning, McDonnell said, because they are the size of a poppy seed and thus tough to identify.

During that survey the department found that 58 percent of 5,000 full-grown blacklegged ticks they collected carry lyme disease, and 27 percent of 1200 nymph ticks collected carried it as well.

“This summer, don’t let a tick make you sick,” Johnson said.

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Lindsay Weber
Lindsay Weber

Lindsay Weber is an intern with the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondent Association and a 2021 graduate of Macalester College. Find her on twitter at @Lindsay_Weber_.