MIDSTATE, Pa. (WHTM) — The Midstate is heading into peak tick season, which means people are more at risk for Lyme disease, the most common disease carried by the bug.
Lyme disease is most concentrated in the northeast of the country. Data from the CDC shows cases in Pennsylvania have more than doubled since 2010. Experts say prevention is key.
“Remember your insect repellent,” Nancy Mimm, Harrisburg University professor of population health, said. “We have a lot of wide-open land that has lots of grassy surfaces.”
As the weather gets warmer, more people are heading outdoors. That means more exposure to ticks and Lyme disease. Mimm said the best thing to do is to avoid getting bitten by ticks in the first place.
“You can wear longer pants so your skin’s not directly exposed,” she said. People can also wear light-colored clothing so ticks are easier to see.
Mimm also said always check yourself and your pets for ticks after being outdoors.
“You’re looking for very tiny, little, creepy-looking crab-like little bugs,” she said. Ticks can be smaller than the tip of an eraser, and they gravitate toward warm places. like your head and behind your ears.
If you find a tick, Mimm says to remove it carefully with tweezers then monitor yourself for symptoms of Lyme disease. “Watch for a fever, fatigue, feeling like you have the flu. You need to look for a rash,” she said.
Lyme disease can cause severe long-term health problems. “It can lead to problems with your immune system, your joints, your nervous system,” Mimm said.
However, if it is caught early, Mimm said it is very easy to treat, and “your likelihood of being cured is really high,” she said.
Spring and summer are when most Lyme disease is transferred to humans from ticks, but Mimm said do not let that discourage you from enjoying the outdoors. She said just taking simple precautions is an easy way to stay safe.