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A new Penn State study shows that the number of ticks that can carry Lyme disease is increasing in the state. Since 2000, Pennsylvania has had the highest number of Lyme disease cases in the country.

The study suggests that number might increase. Researchers found that the blacklegged tick, the most common carrier of Lyme disease, is now the dominant species of tick in the state.

Assistant Research Professor Joyce Sakamoto was part of the research team that examined 117 years of tick samples. She said the shift is caused by regrowth following the clear-cutting of forests more than a century ago.

“More recently, as we’ve been reforesting, these species have come back,” Sakamoto said.

Sakamoto said finding and removing ticks within 24 hours is the best way to avoid Lyme and other diseases.

“The number one thing is not so much what you can do beforehand but what you do afterwards, and that is before you get in your car you check yourself,” Sakamoto said. “And then you go home, take a shower and you check yourself again.”

Blacklegged ticks can also carry other viruses, including spotted fever and babesiosis.

This story comes from our partners at WPSU.