Lyme disease set to rise as Midstate enters peak tick season

MIDSTATE, Pa. (WHTM) — The Midstate is heading into peak tick season, which means people are at higher risk for Lyme disease, the most common bug-borne disease.

Lyme disease is more concentrated in the northeast of the country. CDC data shows cases in Pennsylvania have more than doubled since 2010. Experts say prevention is key.

“Don’t forget your insect repellent,” said Nancy Mimm, a professor of population health at the University of Harrisburg. “We have a lot of wide open land that has a lot of grassy areas.”

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As the weather gets warmer, more and more people are heading outside. This means greater exposure to ticks and Lyme disease. Mimm said the best thing to do was to avoid getting bitten by ticks first.

“You can wear longer pants so your skin isn’t directly exposed,” she said. People can also wear light-colored clothing to make ticks easier to see.

Mimm also said to always check yourself and your pets for ticks after being outdoors.

“You’re looking for very small crab-like insects that are very small and scary,” she said. Ticks can be smaller than the tip of an eraser and they gravitate towards warm places. like your head and behind your ears.

If you find a tick, Mimm says to carefully remove it with tweezers, then watch for symptoms of Lyme disease. “Pay attention to fever, fatigue, feeling like you have the flu. You have to look for a rash,” she said.

Lyme disease can cause serious long-term health problems. “It can lead to problems with your immune system, your joints, your nervous system,” Mimm said.

However, if detected early, Mimm said it is very easy to treat and “your probability of recovery is very high,” she said.

Spring and summer are when most Lyme disease is transmitted to humans by ticks, but Mimm said that won’t put you off enjoying the outdoors. She said just taking simple precautions is an easy way to stay safe.