LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. -- Pennsylvania has one of the highest rates of Lyme Disease in the country, and ticks that carry Lyme are found in all 67 counties in the state.
A tick new to the United States has made its way to New Jersey, and experts say it is likely not going anywhere.
"If that tick made it from East Asia to New Jersey, it's a shorter journey from New Jersey to Pennsylvania," said PA Lyme Resource Network Director of Education and Outreach, Michele Cassetori. Cassetori is also the Regional Leader for NEPA.
The longhorned tick was first spotted in Jersey in August of last year, but the National Veterinary Services Laboratory confirmed that the species survived the winter.
That type of tick can carry an illness similar to Lyme Disease, but that other illness has not shown up in the U.S. yet. It is just another tick to look out for.
"It is always tick season. People are surprised to find out that ticks do not die in the winter. They actually survive and the snow is an insulator for ticks," Cassetori explained.
While ticks come out on warm winter days, experts say spring and summer is the time of year to be even more alert.
"For sure, we do tick checks all the time," said Jo Shaw of Wilkes-Barre.
On a nice day like Tuesday, kids playing in Kirby Park have fewer layers on.
"We have more skin available for the ticks at that time. The other thing that happens in the spring, the younger ticks are hatching and we're actually looking for a nymphal tick which is extremely small, very difficult to see, very easy to miss on the skin," Cassetori explained.
Experts say protecting your pets should be a priority, too.
"I found two on my dog, they were really gross. I've never seen one until this year, and they were just nasty," Shaw said.
Ticks that carry Lyme Disease are found statewide.
"And there hasn't been anything to lead us to think that we'll have less of a tick season than we had last year. So I encourage everyone to start being vigilant right now," Cassetori said.
The NEPA Lyme Resource Network meets at Misericordia University on the first Tuesday of every month. Next month, on Tuesday, May 1, there will be a "Dare 2B Tick Aware" Lyme Disease prevention presentation open to the public.