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Environment & Energy

Recent Warm Weather Could Mean More Tick Activity And Lyme Disease Cases

The warm weather could lead to an increase in tick breeding and cases of Lyme disease, health officials say.

Ticks don’t always wait until the spring to become active. A warm snap in western Pennsylvania could mean more breeding among the insects, and more cases of Lyme disease.

Pennsylvania has had the highest rate of Lyme disease in the nation for years – and that number is going up. More than 12,000 cases were reported last year -- one-third the total cases of Lyme disease across the country.  

Pennsylvania Department of Health press secretary April Hutcheson said that’s partly due to the state's high deer population that often carry ticks and an abundance of forested land, which is also home to ticks. 

Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
This 2015 map shows a high concentration of Lyme disease cases in Pennsylvania and the surrounding states.

“I think there’s also a larger awareness of Lyme disease and getting tested for Lyme disease, so as we become more aware, we do expect those numbers to increase, as more residents are finding signs and symptoms and getting tested,” said Hutcheson.

Lyme Disease has been detected in all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.

Hutcheson said it’s important to take preventative action against ticks year-round, including during unseasonably warm times. She said the most effective prevention methods are using Deet, wearing long pants and sleeves, and seeking early treatment if bites are detected.

(Photo via Auslandsoesterreicherflickraccountinhaber/Flickr)