Pennsylvania officials are urging state residents to do all they can to prevent tick bites, especially in light of Pennsylvania’s history with Lyme disease.
In fact, the disease is so prevalent in Pennsylvania that the state dedicated a task force to combat tick-borne illnesses in 2014.
"We know that mosquito and tick-borne illnesses are part of living in Pennsylvania," acting Health Secretary and Physician General Rachel Levine said. "But there are easy ways to protect yourself and reduce your risk of illness."
Levine and other state officials from the departments of Health and Conservation and Natural Resources gathered at Gifford Pinchot State Park in York County Thursday, highlighting how people can stay free of tick bites in the outdoors.
Levine recommends staying away from areas of dense shrubbery and tall grass, which tend to be tick-infested habitats. She also suggested wearing protective clothing and repellent when going outside.
There were more than 400 cases of Lyme disease reported in Allegheny County in 2016, and more than 11,000 cases reported throughout the state – 2,000 more cases than in 2015. Last year, the disease was reported in every county in the state.
Pennsylvania also lead the country in cases of Lyme disease in 2016. However, the state officials don't want the fear of ticks to prevent people from spending time outdoors.
"We want to encourage our public to get outdoors and hike and be healthy," DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. "There's so many benefits to enjoying the outdoors, but you need to do so safely."