ALLENTOWN, Pa. (WLVT) - Pennsylvania has the highest number of Lyme Disease cases in the country, and researchers say right now is the most common time for people to be infected.
"The Lehigh Valley has had Lyme Disease here for 40 years, but it's been getting worse on a consistent basis," said Muhlenberg Professor of Biology, Marten Edwards, Ph.D. "So, we are what you would consider a hotspot for Lyme Disease transmission."
Edwards said June and July are peak times for ticks carrying Lyme Disease to infect people. He said it's important when you are going for a hike in the woods, or spending a lot of time outdoors in high-grass areas, to make sure you prepare your clothes. He said spraying repellent with Permethrin on your socks and shoes is a good way to keep ticks from crawling onto you from the ground. Edwards also mentioned using basic insect repellent to help keep you protected. "Ticks hate the smell of that, so they’ll avoid you with that as well," said Edwards.
The reason people get bit so easily without knowing, is because the most infectious ticks are almost too small to notice. “These are not your big, dog ticks that you would usually see," said Edwards. "These are little, tiny things about the size of a poppy seed."
If you've been out in areas where ticks may be, Edwards suggests taking a shower as soon as you get home, and at least putting your clothes in the dryer to kill any ticks that may have snagged on. If you do find a tick on your body, you should use very fine forceps or micro tweezers to remove the tick as quickly as possible. Despite myths about lighting matches or using nail polish to remove ticks, Edwards said you should only use tweezers. Anything else could make the tick transmit more of the disease bacteria to your body.
It's also important to pay attention to your health if you think you may have been exposed to ticks. Edwards said some symptoms for Lyme Disease can be similar to COVID-19, so it's important to let your doctor know if you have been in wooded areas or places with high grass.