First Aid Friday: Ticks & Lyme Disease

Pennsylvania officials are warning residents that there is now a danger of Lyme disease in every county in the Commonwealth. Department of Environmental Protection researchers say that blacklegged deer ticks have now been observed in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, the first time that has happened. The ticks are the primary carrier of the disease that can cause fever, fatigue, headache, muscle aches and joint pain.

According to Nathan Harig, Assistant Chief of Cumberland Goodwill EMS in Carlisle, Lyme disease is a bacteria carried by specific types of ticks known as Ixodes, commonly referred to as the deer tick. These ticks are prevalent in our area and are most active from April to September. They wait on the forest floor or climb tall grass to latch on to their host. They’re unable to jump or fly, but can crawl unnoticed all the way up to the scalp.

Repellents that contain DEET or Permethrin have been shown to help repel ticks, follow the product instructions and make sure kids especially have it applied before going out in the woods. If you are out, try to avoid any wooden or busy areas with high grass or leaf litter. Walk in the center of the trails. Remember ticks can crawl from the floor of these forests, so long sleeves or pants are not necessary a guaranteed barrier as they may just hitch a ride on your clothes. After being outdoors perform a tick-check on yourself and anyone you’re with, and if you notice one remove it quickly, take a bath or a shower to more easily find any ticks, and wash and dry your clothing to kill off any hitchhikers.

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