Ticks that carry Lyme disease found in Eastern US national parks

Lyme disease has been spreading across the United States over the past several decades, and a new study has confirmed that ticks carrying the disease are present in eastern national parks.

According to the study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Park Service (NPS) collected ticks along hiking trails in nine eastern national parks. They found blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis), also called deer ticks, infected with the bacteria that causes Lyme disease in all nine parks. The study is the first to confirm the presence of these ticks, which researchers already suspected because Lyme disease has been reported in the region.

The nine parks the researchers studied were Acadia National Park, Catoctin Mountain Park, Fire Island National Seashore, Gettysburg National Military Park, Manassas National Battlefield Park, Monocacy National Battlefield, Prince William Forest Park, Rock Creek Park, and Shenandoah National Park.

And how can park visitors reduce risk? Here are some of the best ways, according the CDC and NPS:

  • Use repellents that contain 20-30 percent DEET on exposed skin and clothing.
  • Use products that contain permethrin on clothing.
  • Shower within two hours of leaving a tick-prone area to wash off ticks that may be crawling on you.
  • Check yourself for ticks and remove attached ticks.
  • Dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill any ticks on your clothing.
  • Check pets and gear for ticks.
  • Hike in the center of trails.
  • Avoid sitting down or leaning on logs or bushes along the trail.

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