The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced that it is conducting a five-year environmental surveillance of ticks to assess the risk of tickborne illnesses across Pennsylvania.
The survey, which started in July 2018 in coordination with county governments, is part of the Pennsylvania Lyme Disease Task Force recommendations for combating the growing incidence of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. It is funded annually through the state budget.
“Lyme disease affects thousands of Pennsylvanians every year, but ticks are also known to carry other pathogens that could infect humans. This survey will provide important data that will help us better understand these arachnids in our environment and inform Pennsylvanians on how, when and where to avoid getting bitten by a disease-carrying tick,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “We want everyone to enjoy the outdoors and take the proper precautions to avoid contact with ticks, and we are proud to support the Lyme Disease Task Force’s efforts to protect Pennsylvanians.”
“Lyme disease is a major public health concern in Pennsylvania,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Many people believe that Lyme disease, and the ticks that carry the disease, can only be found in wooded areas. However, I know personally, as do many others, that ticks can be found in your backyard, where you walk your dog, or the local park. These surveillance efforts will help us to share with all Pennsylvanians the importance of taking steps to protect yourself.”
The survey is taking place in every county in Pennsylvania to track ticks’ habitats, life stages and peak activity levels and to test them for human pathogenic diseases. Additionally, 38 counties are conducting a specific survey of nymphal blacklegged (Ixodes scapularis) ticks, which can transmit Lyme Disease to humans.