When it comes to ticks, “we’re number one”

My friend George Etzweiler, who turns 100 this year, grew up in central Pennsylvania—the Lewistown area to be precise. He told me not long ago that he never saw a tick until he was an adult and moved from Pennsylvania to Maryland.  Maryland had ticks. Pennsylvania didn’t.

 Well now Pennsylvania has lots of ticks. In fact, the Keystone State is tick-bite central.  Every year, our Commonwealth leads all states in reported cases of Lyme Disease, of which the black-legged tick, also called the deer tick, is the prime carrier.  In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control recorded 11,900 Lyme Disease cases in Pennsylvania. That’s more than twice the number reported by New York, which ranked second. And the CDC estimates that only 10 percent of Lyme cases are reported.  If that’s true, the number could be as high as 119,000.

Lyme Disease is now diagnosed in all 67 counties.  The freeze-free period across the Northeast is expected to lengthen by as much as two weeks by mid-century if current climate trends continue.  That will be great news for ticks but bad news for humans and other mammals who brush up against the pests.

Dick Jones, State College.  January 2020

Then and Now
When will the ground freeze?

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