WAYNE COUNTY—As spring settles in and outdoor recreation between rain storms becomes more enticing, Wayne County residents are reminded to keep an eye out for disease-carrying ticks while working or playing outside.
A June 2018 study conducted by the Northeast Wildlife DNA Laboratory at East Stroudsburg University (ESU) notes humans and animals, in the northeast and midwest specifically, are at increasing risk for acquiring tick-borne diseases (TBD).
The study also notes, since 2011, Pennsylvania “has reported the highest number of Lyme disease cases in the U.S.”
Chairperson of the Wayne County Task Force on Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases, Marcia Barrera stated, “Pennsylvania is still the worst state for new cases,” of Lyme and TBDs.
Aside from Lyme Disease, ticks can carry myriad other infections including Anaplasma, Babesia, Bartonella, Borrelia miyamotoi, Mycoplasma and Powassan.
“The problem is, they can be either bacteria, or viruses, or parasites,” said Barrera, “And therefore they require different medicines.”
In the ESU study, 100 ticks were collected from Milford Borough, 51 percent of which tested positive for at least one TBD.
Barrera explained recent research has shown that, in addition to deer ticks, dog ticks can also transmit TBD through bites, “and the transmission time can be less than 15 minutes.”
It was previously thought Lyme and other TBDs took 24 hours to infect a host, said Barerra.
She noted dog ticks have been shown to carry Anaplasma, Erlichia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Tularemia.
Three hundred seventy-eight ticks collected for a different 2018 ESU study also based in Pike County showed that, of those carrying an infection, 15 percent tested positive for two pathogens and 1.6 percent tested positive for three pathogens.
While ticks are traditionally thought of as dwelling in wooded, unkempt and wild areas, Barrera noted, “Studies are showing that ticks are gravitating towards areas of human density. So they are not exclusively in the woods. They can just as likely be in your back yard.”
The June 2018 study notes ideal tick habitats boarder on the edge of forest with vegetation, wood and brush piles, shrubs and leaf litter. The three areas tested contained these elements, as well as being locations of heavy human and wildlife foot traffic.
Helping to diagnose and treat the diverse infections transmitted by ticks, the Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers recently opened a Tick-Borne Disease Wellness Center in the Pike Family Health Center at 750, Route 739 in Lords Valley.
Those looking for more information about the wellness center or to make an appointment can call 570-775-7100.
“The Wayne County Task Force continues their campaign of educating people about awareness and prevention and options for treatment,” said Barrera. “And we would be glad to speak to any organizations that would be glad to have us.”
Relaying information to the public, the task force has an upcoming event on Friday, May 17, 7 p.m. at the Cooperage.
More information about ticks and Lyme Disease is available on the task force website: http://nolyme.com.