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Tick prevention for yourself, animals with webinars

STATE COLLEGE — According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lyme disease, caused by a tick-borne pathogen, affects more than 400,000 people each year.

“Tick-borne diseases are the greatest concern in vector-borne disease in the United States,” said Erika Machtinger, assistant professor of veterinary entomology in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

Vector-borne diseases are transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks, blackflies, sandflies, triatomine bugs, tsetse flies, mites, snails and lice. But tick-borne pathogens account for the bulk — about 75% — of all vector-borne diseases in the U.S., according to Machtinger. And ticks can harm animals as well as people.

“Lyme disease and anaplasmosis can affect dogs and horses just like people,” Machtinger said. “It sometimes can be difficult to tell what is going on, but they can seem tired, sore, have a lack of appetite or run a fever.”

To educate the public about tick risk and tick bite prevention in these companion animals, Penn State Extension will offer the spring 2022 “Tick Webinar Series.” The vector-borne disease extension team will hold two webinars in May — Lyme Disease Awareness Month — at no cost to participants. This series will focus on ticks and tick control in working and hunting dogs, companion pets, and horses, covering steps that pet and horse owners should consider to reduce their own risk of tick bites.

The events are free. However, registration is required by noon on each webinar date to receive the link to access the live webinar. Registrants also will receive access to the webinar recording.

The first webinar — “Horses and Ticks Don’t Mix — Protecting Your Horses from Tick Bites” — will take place today from noon to 1 p.m. Aimed at horse owners, prospective horse owners and horse farm owners, the session will cover:

• How to identify important ticks.

• Multiple ways to approach tick control on and off the horse.

• How to reduce the risk of tick bite and pathogen transmission.

The Penn State Extension website contains more information: https://extension.psu.edu/horses-and-ticks-dont-mix-protecting-your-horses-from-tick-bites.

The second webinar — “Tick Prevention on Companion Animals” — will occur from noon to 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 26. Instructors will discuss how to protect pets from tick bites and prevent them from bringing ticks into the home. The event is designed for owners of dogs and cats in the northeastern United States. The session will cover:

• Primary ticks that are found on pets and veterinary concerns associated with these ticks.

• Available treatment options for ticks on pets and how to prevent ticks on pets.

• How to reduce ticks around your home and lower your risk of a tick bite if you live with a pet.

Participants can find more information at https://extension.psu.edu/tick-series-tick-prevention-on-companion-animals.

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