Pennsylvanians urged to protect themselves from ticks, mosquitos


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — The Pennsylvania Department of Health reminded Pennsylvanians on Wednesday to take proper steps to protect against tick and mosquito bites.

Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said that ticks and mosquitoes can carry dangerous diseases that can severely impact an individual’s health if not treated properly.

It is essential that all residents know the proper ways to protect themselves against these serious diseases so they do not get sick. We encourage all Pennsylvanians to get outside and be healthy but do so in the safest way possible

Dr. Rachel Levine, Secretary of Health

Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks. According to the Department of Health, there were 9,009 confirmed and probable cases of lyme disease in Pennsylvania in 2019. Lyme disease can lead to severe symptoms over time if it goes untreated, such as symptoms that affect the heart, nervous system and joints.

An individual is at risk of getting a tick any time they are outside, including in wooded and bushy areas and areas with high grass and leaf litter. Ticks can even be found in the individual’s own yard.

To reduce your chances of a tick bite:

  • Walk in the center of trails and avoid areas with high grass and leaf litter
  • Use a repellent that contains at least 20% DEET
  • Wear light-colored clothing
  • Conduct full-body tick checks on yourself and on your pets after spending time outdoors
  • Take a bath or shower within 2 hours after coming indoors

Anyone bitten by a tick needs to monitor the area for symptoms and immediately contact their health care provider. The following are a list of lyme disease symptoms:

  • A red, swollen bulls-eye shape rash
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Another dangerous disease that Pennsylvanians should be aware of is the West Nile virus, which can be transmitted by mosquitoes that breed in areas with standing water. The Department of Health said that there with seven human cases of the West Nile virus in the state in 2019.

Most people infected do not develop any symptoms, but about one in five people will have symptoms similar to other illnesses, including:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Joint pains
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rash

The West Nile virus can lead to serious conditions such as brain swelling, meningitis, neck stiffnes, coma, tremors, muscle weakness, disorientation and paralysis.

The Department of Health said that the best way to protect against the West Nile virus is to wear insect repellent containing DEET during the April – October mosquito season, especially during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are actively feeding.

Pennsylvanians are also encouraged to reduce the amount of standing water around their home by cleaning the gutters on their house, emptying any outside containers and turning over any plastic pools and wheelbarrows when they are not being used.

If you are experiencing symptoms consistent with those caused from an insect or tick, immediately contact your health care provider.

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