HARRISBURG - With the new spring season here, the Wolf Administration reminds Pennsylvania residents and visitors to avoid ticks by taking precautions when spending time outdoors as the weather warms.

"Spending time outdoors and participating in physical activity is a key part of living a healthy life," said Pennsylvania Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam.

"While we encourage safe recreation, we must be aware of ticks and the serious diseases they carry. As Lyme disease and related tick-borne diseases become more prevalent in Pennsylvania, it is important to protect yourself when spending time outdoors," Beam said.

Blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks, are the most common carriers of Lyme disease and Anaplasmosis. Ticks typically thrive in tall grass, brush, and wooded areas, but deer ticks have been found in every county in the commonwealth and can live in any habitat.

Common signs of a tick disease include fever, headache, chills, and muscle aches. Lyme disease is often characterized by a bulls-eye-like rash, although Lyme disease may not always present itself with this obvious sign. If you believe you have been bitten by a tick, it is important to speak to a doctor immediately.

Ticks are most likely to infect humans during the late spring and summer but can also infect humans year-round.

"As climate change continues to warm our winters, we're seeing higher tick populations surviving months that used to be too cold to survive," said Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell.

"As the number of ticks continues to rise, so do the odds of tick-borne disease transmission. We must remain diligent both in protecting ourselves from bites, but also in seeking long-term solutions to address climate change," McDonnell said.

The Wolf Administration reminds Pennsylvania residents and visitors of the following simple ways to reduce their chances of being bitten by ticks:

- Cover exposed skin with lightweight and light-colored clothing;

- Avoid tick-infested habitats such as areas dense with shrubbery or tall grass;

- Use an insect repellent containing 20 percent or more DEET;

- Once returning home, immediately check yourself, children, and pets for ticks;

- Take a shower immediately to remove ticks that may be attached to skin; and

- If possible, dry clothing and gear in a dryer to kill any ticks

"Whether visiting one of our 121 state parks, hiking our more than 2.2 million acres of state forestland, or enjoying your own backyard, we must be cognizant of our surroundings," said Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Dunn.

"Proper personal care and actions can keep us safe while enjoying the outdoors," Dunn said.