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High Rate Of Tick-Borne Disease Measured In Centre County

As temperatures begin to rise, folks in State College are likely itching to get outside. Although spring is on the mind, tick season is in full swing, and local hikers should beware.

This month, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) found extremely high rates of deer tick virus in a popular Centre County location. Fisherman’s Paradise, a spot known for its high concentration of wild brown trout and beautiful hiking trails, is saturated with DTV. On the east bank of Spring Creek in Bellefonte, more than 80% of ticks carried the virus.

The DEP’s Tick Surveillance and Testing Program examined 50 samples at the Iroquois Trail, in addition to Fisherman’s Paradise and Lawrence Township Recreational Park in Clearfield County. Just 0.6% of ticks sampled outside of these three hotspots were infected with DTV.

The highest reported rate in scientific literature was 25%, and formerly, the highest rate in a single location in Pennsylvania was 11%.

Since 2018, DEP has conducted routine testing as part of its five-year tick surveillance program. DTV was detected in 15 of the 67 counties in the state.

DTV is different than Lyme disease, a more well-known tick-borne disease. DTV is a Powassan virus, and it can be transmitted from tick to human just 15 minutes after a bite. Symptoms can range from none to fever, headache, vomiting, and weakness. The infection is rare and can go undetected, but more than 90% of patients treated for DTV develop neuroinvasive diseases.

To best prepare yourself for tick season, be sure to apply permethrin-containing tick repellents and EPA-registered insect repellents, conduct full-body tick checks, check pets, tuck your clothing, and walk in the centers of trails. More suggestions on how to prepare for tick season can be found here.

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About the Author

Colleen Nersten

Colleen is a senior biology major from York, Pa, and is one of Onward State's associate editors. She overuses the ~tilde~ and aspires to be no other than the great Guy Fieri. You can find Colleen filling up her gas tank at Rutter’s, the ~superior~ Pennsylvania gas station. Please direct any questions or concerns to [email protected] For the hijinks, always.

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