As the number of Lyme disease cases in the state and across the nation continues to rise, officials from the departments of Health and Education announced a new initiative to help educate students on the prevalence of ticks and the types of diseases they carry.
“Ticks that cause Lyme disease are everywhere, which is why it is so important to know the proper steps to take to avoid getting a tick bite,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Through this art competition, we will be able to educate students and their parents on where ticks live and how to prevent getting a tick bite, furthering our commitment to promoting healthy behaviors and preventing diseases. We hope that this initiative serves as a reminder to check yourself, your pets and your families for ticks after spending any amount of time outdoors.”
There were approximately 10,000 cases of Lyme disease reported in Pennsylvania in 2018. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. However, if the infection is left untreated, it can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.
Ticks are usually found in shrubs, weeds, leaf litter, and tall grasses, but can be found anywhere there is grass, so it is important to take the proper steps to decrease your chances of getting bitten. When outside, cover exposed skin, wear light colors to help see if ticks are on you, and use insect repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET. After being outside, check yourself, your kids and your pets thoroughly for ticks and remove any that are attached. Then, take a shower to help remove any ticks that you may have missed. You can also throw your clothes in the dryer using high heat to help kill any ticks that might still be left.
To help increase education surrounding ticks and Lyme disease, the Department of Health has partnered with the Department of Education to educate children and their peers about where ticks are found and how to prevent encountering ticks in their habitat.
“Being outdoors with friends and family and enjoying nature is part of so many people’s lives, and as they enjoy outdoor activities, we want them to be informed and take precautions to stay healthy,” said Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera. “The art competition is a fun and informative way for students to learn about Lyme disease and the steps they can take to protect themselves from ticks.”
The art contest is open to children in first grade through sixth. Entries must be received by March 6, 2020 by 5 p.m. Finalists will be notified by mail and will be invited to an award ceremony in Harrisburg. Contest materials can be found on the Department of Health’s website.