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Avoid Tall Grass, Use Bug Repellent And Other Steps To Avoiding Tick Bites This Summer

Victoria Arocho

Warmer weather marks the start of outdoor activities and the increased risk of tick bites. Ticks can cause illnesses like Lyme disease in both humans and animals.

The most common tick in Pennsylvania is the black-legged tick, also known as the deer tick. According to Penn State University Extension assistant research professor of arthropod identification Michael Skvarla, 30 to 60 percent of black-legged ticks carry Lyme disease.

“[If people] are going hiking out in areas where there are ticks, do a tick check frequently, every 20 or 30 minutes,” Skvarla said. “In general, there has been an enormous increase in the number of ticks over the last 20 to 30 years across Pennsylvania.”

Pennsylvania Department of Health epidemiology research assistant Leah Lind said people tend to miss nymphs when checking for ticks due to their size. She said that people often encounter ticks in their backyard.

“They cut their grass, they rake leaves, things like that, without really thinking that they may encounter ticks in their own backyard,” Lind said. “And so that's really something that we have been really trying to stress.”

If someone shows signs of tick-borne disease, such as fever and chills, body aches or a bite rash, the Pennsylvania Department of Health recommends contacting a health care provider to get treatment as soon as possible.

To help reduce the chances of being bitten by ticks:

  • Cover exposed skin with lightweight and light-colored clothing
  • Avoid tick-infested habitats such as areas dense with shrubbery or tall grass
  • Use an EPA-approved insect repellent
  • Once returning home, immediately check yourself, children, and pets for ticks.
  • Take a shower immediately to remove ticks that may be crawling on the skin
  • If possible, dry clothing and gear in a dryer to kill any ticks
I am a senior at Clarion University studying Integrated Journalism. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, and enjoy covering Pittsburgh-related news.