Posted: October 21, 2021

Ticks and Lyme disease are not a new subject for forestland owners and people who frequently venture out in Pennsylvania.

As a former resident of Connecticut, I became aware of this tick-borne disease shortly after it was first reported in 1975 in Old Lyme, Connecticut. Recently much work has been conducted to learn more about this subject and I will point out some recent information you will find useful. One recent study completed in Pike County in northeastern PA is useful because of its comprehensive detail and summary done by the Pike County Tick Taskforce. I listed their website below. I am writing what was new to me in Forest Leaves to help other readers better understand some of the recent findings regarding ticks in Pennsylvania. Obviously, the best thing is to avoid being bitten, but if it happens you should act.  

The taskforce collected over 1000 blacklegged deer ticks from May through July (Spring) and October through November (Fall) in 2018 and 2019 using corduroy drag cloths pulled along the ground for several meters before being examined for ticks. In total 55% of the ticks tested positive for disease, leaving 45% testing negative. When examined seven different tick-borne diseases were identified. Lyme disease is most prevalent at 45% followed by smaller percentages of Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Bordetellosis, Mycoplasmosis, B. miyamotoi, and DTV (Deer Tick Virus or Powassan). Coinfections, where a tick carries more than one disease, were found in 21% of the infected ticks tested. Although it is rare, ticks carrying multiple infections were found, but none of the ticks carried 6 infections. This is important because the treatments required for each infection can be different. Please understand I have greatly abbreviated the findings from their 19-page report. The important point here is if you are bitten by a tick you have a small chance of contracting more than one tick-borne disease. All of these diseases each have different transmission times, varying from as little as 15 minutes for Powassan virus to hours or days for others. 

I found one website called the Tick Research lab of Pennsylvania to be particularly useful https://www.ticklab.org/  They will test submitted tick samples and provide you with the test results so you can then decide if you need to investigate treatment. They list pricing as FREE for their basic panel of tests for Pennsylvania residents only.   

I found Penn State's website helpful as well as the Pike County where the report originated. 
 
Penn State tick-borne diseases: https://extension.psu.edu/common-ticks-and-tick-borne-diseases-in-pennsylvania 

Pike County Tick Taskforce: https://www.pikepa.org/tick 

 

For more information about the PA Tree Farm program, visit our webpage at www.paforestry.org/treefarm.

Written by John Hoover, PA Tree Farm Committee Chair 

Center for Private Forests

Address

416 Forest Resources Building
University Park, PA 16802

Center for Private Forests

Address

416 Forest Resources Building
University Park, PA 16802