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Beware the tiny deer tick and its risks to health

It’s been said that we live in a dog-eat-dog world, a place of survival of the fittest. It could even be said that nature will always challenge our existence on this planet.

Long before we became versed in coronavirus protocol, there were creatures big and small that threatened our health and well being.

Some predators — sharks and bears, for instance — instantly capture our attention when they attack humans.

On the other end of the spectrum is the largely ignored deer tick.

This tiny creature — about the size of a poppy seed — can carry numerous diseases, and their number is multiplying.

“This year in particular, we are seeing increases in the number of Lyme disease reports across the state, and clinicians are reporting that they are seeing more cases of other tick-borne diseases,” said Dr. Denise Johnson, state acting physician general. Those diseases include anaplasmosis and Powassan virus.

She recently was joined by other state officials at Boyd Big Tree Preserve in Dauphin County to call attention to the prevalence of ticks in Pennsylvania and associated diseases.

Common signs of a tick disease, she said, include fever, headache, chills and muscle aches. Lyme disease is often but not always characterized by a bullseye-like rash. Additional symptoms for Powassan virus may include vomiting, weakness, confusion, loss of coordination, difficulty speaking, or even seizures in severe cases.

Transmission for Lyme disease from tick to human takes about 24 hours, but Powassan transmission from a tick bite can happen in as little as 15 minutes.

This makes it all the more important to cover your skin when going out, avoid tall grass and shrubbery and then check your body and clothing for ticks after venturing outdoors.

If you have symptoms that are consistent with a tick-borne disease, it is important to quickly seek medical attention.

We live in the heart of one of the best outdoors areas in the nation.

It’s best that we also recognize and remain vigilant against the other creatures that live here.

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