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Health, Science & Tech

2013 Likely Won't Be a Heavy Tick Year, But Caution Still Advised

Ticks are about as well-loved as invasive dental surgery, so it’s likely a relief to many that 2013 is forecast to be an average or below average tick year, according to the Carey Institute of Ecosystem Studies.

Despite that prediction, it’s still important to be wary of ticks, said Ed Rajotte, a professor of entomology at Penn State.

“Not thinking about ticks has some bad consequences,” Rajotte said. “So assuming that there are ticks, assuming that there is Lyme disease — which is pretty much all over the state at this point — is not a bad assumption. You’re making a safe decision.”

Ticks and humans share basic goals: a place to live, a comfortable environment, and food. Unfortunately for the human population, ticks feed on blood, and we tend to be one of the parasitic arthropod’s preferred meals, along with other mammals such as white-footed mice and deer.

Though Richard Ostfeld, senior scientist at the Carey Institute, doesn’t believe ticks or Lyme disease or the other pathogens they carry can be eradicated, he believes risk to humans can be reduced.

"We need more research and we need more work to bring actual scientific results into fruition in terms of products that people can actually use in their neighborhoods,” he said.

Until then, there are a number of measures to prevent risk of Lyme disease infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Penn State both offer information on ticks, the pathogens they carry and preventative guidelines.