Harrisburg – As people continue to spend time outdoors in the fall months, the Wolf Administration wants to remind residents of the dangers of tick and mosquito-borne diseases and take steps to protect themselves.
“Fall is a wonderful time of year to spend time outdoors and take part in many activities, such as hiking and watching the fall foliage. However, we want to make sure that people protect themselves when they are outside,” said Health Minister Dr. Rachel Levine. “Both ticks and mosquitoes carry a number of serious diseases. Preparation and protection from these diseases only take a few minutes. “
Before going outdoors, it’s important to cover exposed skin, wear light-colored clothing (to aid insect detection), tuck your pants in your socks, and use an insect repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET. You can also treat your clothing with a product that contains permethrin to repel ticks. These steps will protect you from ticks and mosquitoes.
“For many, autumn is the best time to hike with beautiful colors, clear air and fewer insects. However, many people are surprised to learn that ticks are active year round. Hence, it is always important to take preventative measures so that you can enjoy the mental and physical health benefits of being outdoors, ”said Cindy Adams Dunn, Minister for Conservation and Natural Resources.
Adult black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks, are the most common carriers of Lyme disease and the only species of tick that is active in Pennsylvania during the fall and winter months. These ticks appear in the fall and are usually active during the winter months on days when the temperature is above 40 degrees. In addition to Lyme disease, these ticks can also transmit various other diseases such as anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and Powassan virus, which have been reported in the state. Ticks usually thrive in high grass, bush, and forest areas, but deer ticks have been found in every county in the state and can live in any habitat.
When you return home, immediately check yourself, children, and pets for ticks. Then take a shower to remove any ticks on your skin. Check your clothes and equipment carefully and put them in the dryer to kill ticks.
Areas to check where ticks can adhere are:
- Under the poor;
- In and around the ears;
- Inside belly button;
- Hollow of the knee;
- In and around the hair;
- Between the legs; and
- Around the waist.
Symptoms of Lyme disease can include a rash, fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes. It’s important to know that someone bitten by a tick with Lyme disease may not always get a rash.
If you think you have been bitten by a tick, it is important to speak to a doctor right away. Antibiotic treatment in the early stages of Lyme disease can help prevent more severe symptoms from developing. If not treated right away, Lyme disease can lead to serious health problems that affect the heart, joints, and nervous system.
West Nile Virus (WNV) is transmitted by mosquitoes that multiply in areas with stagnant and stagnant water. These areas include urban sumps, clogged gutters, discarded tires, poorly maintained swimming pools, flower pots, gutters, and other containers that hold water. Reduce the chance of being bitten by an infected mosquito by removing stagnant water in your home.
Although mosquitoes can bite at any time of the day or night, the mosquitoes that transmit WNV are most active in the morning and evening light. Make sure that window and door grilles are in place and in good condition to keep mosquitos from entering a home.
WNV can cause severe neurological infection, including encephalitis and meningitis. Symptoms of these infections include severe headache, high fever, muscle weakness, neck stiffness, paralysis, possible confusion and disorientation, tremors, and even death.
For more information on ticks and mosquitoes, please visit www.health.pa.gov