As you venture outside, it’s important to protect yourself, your children, and your pets from ticks and mosquitoes, which can carry deadly diseases.
PENNSYLVANIA STATE | Several state agencies are warning residents of the potential dangers caused by mosquito and tick-borne illnesses, specifically West Nile Virus (WNV), Lyme Disease, and Anaplasmosis. So far in 2021, 14 human West Nile virus cases have been reported in Pennsylvania, resulting in two deaths. One death occurred in Philadelphia County, and the second in Franklin County.
“Autumn is a wonderful season to spend time outdoors and participate in many activities, such as hiking and observing the fall foliage, but we want to make sure people protect themselves when they are outside,” said Acting Secretary of Health and Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson said. “Both ticks and mosquitoes carry a number of serious diseases. It only takes a few minutes to prepare and protect yourself from these diseases.”
WNV is known to cause serious neurological infections, including encephalitis and meningitis, according to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Symptoms may include a severe headache, high fever, muscle weakness, neck stiffness, paralysis, possible confusion and disorientation, tremors, and even death. WNV is usually transmitted by mosquitoes that are most active at dawn and dusk. They are known to breed in standing and stagnant water, including urban catch basins, clogged gutters, discarded tires, poorly maintained swimming pools, flowerpots, roof gutters, and other containers. The DEP recommends eliminating standing water around your home and installing screens on all windows and doors.
“Fall is for many the best time for hiking with beautiful colors, crisp air, and fewer bugs, but many people are surprised to learn that there are ticks that remain active throughout the year,” said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “That is why we are encouraging Pennsylvanians to remember to always take the necessary preventative measures to safely enjoy the outdoors and ensure the positive physical and mental health benefits of being active during the season.”
Lyme disease is most commonly transmitted by the deer tick, which is also known as black-legged ticks. They are the only tick species in Pennsylvania active during the fall and winter months when temperatures exceed 40 degrees. Deer ticks can carry several other diseases, including Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, and Powassan Virus. They thrive in tall grass, brush, and wooded areas. However, they live in every county in Pennsylvania. Common Lyme disease symptoms may include a bulls-eye rash, fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes. Anaplasmosis symptoms include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
The DEP recommends checking your children, pets, gear, and yourself for ticks after performing any outdoor activities. Ticks are often found under arms, in and around ears, inside belly buttons, in and around hair, between legs and the back of knees, and around the waist.
“At this critical time, we are urging everyone to take precautions to keep themselves and their loved ones safe,” said Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Acting Secretary Ramez Ziadeh. “Simple, commonsense actions can prevent mosquito and tick bites and can prevent the spread of diseases like West Nile virus and Lyme disease.”
The DEP recommends consulting a physician if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above. Early antibiotic treatment can help prevent more severe symptoms.
More information on ticks and mosquitoes is available at www.health.pa.gov. More information on Pennsylvania’s West Nile virus control program is available here.