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Pennsylvania Tick Season

Tick season typically lasts from April to October in Pennsylvania, but a series of warm winters and rising temperatures are causing them to emerge and stay active longer than usual. The Pennsylvania Tick Research Lab from East Stroudsburg University, the biggest tick research lab in the United States, has been collecting data on ticks for years now, studying the trends and statistics of tick life cycles and the prevalence of tick-borne illnesses.

“This past year our tick bites were up 350% because we had a warmer winter and there was no snow coverage, What we are seeing this year is our adult ticks that normally are active March-April are becoming more active January-February because of the warmer months. This resulted in our larva activity starting a little sooner this summer than what we’ve anticipated as well as our nymph population coming out”

The lab allows people from all over the country to send in their ticks for testing which not only helps those bitten -by seeing which diseases the tick was carrying but also to further research and education about tick-borne illnesses. The lab finds that one in two ticks is carrying a pathogen and about 12% of ticks carry more than one tick-borne illness.

“It’s not just Lyme disease that’s an issue associated with ticks, Lyme disease is going to be the most frequent that we find in tick populations followed my pathogens like anaplasmosis, babesiosis, there’s various forms of babesiosis associated with ticks. There’s Powassan Virus, there’s ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF). There’s a slew of tick-borne pathogens that ticks can carry.”

The lab urges people not to wait for medical assistance but to remove ticks as soon as they are noticed.

“Pennsylvania is endemic to ticks we have them all over the place so it’s important that you have a tick kit available in your house at all times, That would be ideal. Have a fine point tweezer or some sort of tick removal tool and clean Ziploc bags available so once you remove that tick, grabbing at the base of the tick and pulling straight up and out”

There are also some methods you should avoid.

“What you want to avoid when removing a tick is some of those remedies that you may see on social media, Where it’s like put some alcohol on the tick and it’ll easily back out or use petroleum jelly or dawn’s soap and rub a circle. Any of those remedies could cause the tick to become agitated and when they become agitated, they release their stomach contents into the person and that could push your exposure to a tick borne pathogen sooner.”

More than 50% of tick bites occur in your own backyard which is why the lab urges everyone to practice tick prevention methods.

“Wear light colored clothing so you can see the ticks crawling, Be diligent to give yourself a tick check throughout your ventures outside. So, constantly just looking down at your arms and your legs to make sure nothing is crawling on you. Wearing some sort of a tick repellant whether it’s natural or chemical. You can treat your socks and your shoes. If you wear long pants and tuck your pants into your socks it’ll help because ticks are going to be anywhere from a couple inches off of the ground to up to three feet. They’ll start from the waist down. They won’t fall from trees or jump or fly.”

For more information on the PA Tick Lab or instructions on how to send your tick for analysis visit the lab’s website.


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