Updated: 4:52 p.m. Thursday, April 24, 2014 | Posted: 4:46 p.m. Thursday, April 24, 2014

CDC: Pa. leads country in tick population

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Increase in ticks photo
Increase in ticks

PITTSBURGH —

Pennsylvania leads the nation in number of Lyme disease cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That means ticks are causing more trouble here, than anywhere else.

According to Channel 11’s Trisha Pittman, proactive parents are key in keeping the numbers low for children.

“In 2013, there were 4,000 cases of tick borne Lyme disease, which is why people are worried about tick bites in the state of Pennsylvania,” pediatrician Dr. David Hennessey said.

Officials predict that number will increase this year, and say parents are the first line of defense.

“You should really be inspecting your child. I would think every night before they go to bed,” Hennessey said.

Wood ticks can cause infection at the spot where the tick embeds the skin. Deer ticks are more dangerous and can cause Lyme disease.

“Lyme disease is a bacterial illness that can be mild if it’s caught early, but can be devastating including nervous system and heart complications,” Hennessey said.

If you find a tick before it's fully engorged and you don't know which kind it is, Dr Hennessy says there is a good rule of thumb.

Take a ball point pen. If the tick is the size of the plunger of the pen, it's probably a wood tick.  If it's the size of the point of the ball point pen, it's probably a deer tick.

"We have a deer problem in Western Pennsylvania. We have way too many deer, and they're virtually everywhere,” Hennessey said.

Doctors agree that if your child has a tick bite and you fear Lyme disease, it’s treatable if caught early.

"The use of antibiotics is usually pretty simple and effective,” Hennessey said.

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