Ticked off: here’s what you need to know about prevention

Yardwork, hiking, and sunbathing all come with inherent risks, but one that could be life-altering is a tiny tick.

Tick activity in the commonwealth is at its worst from May through October. And, there’s no doubt that they are in Pennsylvania transmitting diseases.

Out of the over 65,135 ticks tested by the Pennsylvania Tick Research Lab, 18,871 were reported as infected. Prevention is the best way to defend oneself from being infected.

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Ticks can cause Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever (Rickettsiosis), Powassan virus, and STARI. Each of the diseases’ symptoms vary slightly but share similarities that could include fatigue, fever, headaches, and muscle and joint pains.

Here are steps that could prevent contracting a disease, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

  • Check your clothing: ticks climb onto things. If one is found on clothing, remove it. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after coming indoors. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks.
  • Examine gear and pets: ticks climb onto clothing and pets and then attach to a person. Examine pets, coats, and daypacks.
  • Shower soon after being outdoors: showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease and may be effective in reducing the risk of tickborne diseases.
  • Conduct a tick check after being outdoors: check these locations for ticks after being in tick-infested areas, including backyards
    • Under arms
    • In and around the ears
    • Inside belly button
    • Back of the knees
    • In and around the hair
    • Between the legs
    • Around the waist
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