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    Student art competition to raise awareness about ticks, lyme disease

    As the number of Lyme disease cases in the state and across the nation continues to rise, officials from the Pennsylvania departments of Health (DOH), Education (PDE), and Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) are encouraging Pennsylvanians to participate in the 2022 Lyme Art Contest to promote awareness of the prevalence of ticks and the types of diseases they carry.  

    “Ticks that cause Lyme disease are found in every county and every green space, even in cities, which is why it is so important to know the proper steps to take to avoid getting a tick bite,” Acting Secretary of Health Keara Klinepeter said. “Through this art competition, we will be able to educate students and their parents on where ticks live and how to prevent getting a tick bite, furthering our commitment to promoting healthy behaviors and preventing diseases. This initiative serves as a consistent reminder to check yourself, your pets and your family for ticks after spending any amount of time outdoors.” 

    The art contest is open to children in first through sixth grade. Entries must be received by 5:00pm, March 11th, 2022. Contest materials can be found on the Department of Health’s website

    The Lyme Art Contest was created in 2019 to educate children, scout troops, youth community programs, and their peers about where ticks are found and how to prevent encountering ticks in their habitat. This year’s finalists will be notified by mail and will be invited to an award ceremony in May 2022. 

    “Ticks are prevalent nearly everywhere in the commonwealth, even in your own backyard, and it’s important for Pennsylvanians to remain vigilant when they’re enjoying outdoor recreation,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Noe Ortega. “The Lyme Art Contest is a great way to raise awareness by engaging teachers and students and using the arts to educate their communities.”  

    In Pennsylvania, there are reports of up to 10,000 Lyme disease cases per year and more are likely unreported. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a short course of antibiotics.

    However, if the infection is left untreated, it can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. 

    Ticks are usually found in shrubs, weeds, leaf litter, and tall grasses, but can be found anywhere there is grass. So, it is important to take the proper steps to decrease the chances of getting bitten. When outside, cover exposed skin, wear light colors to help detect ticks, and use insect repellent that contains 20% or more DEET. Use permethrin spray on shoes, clothes and gear before spending time outdoors. After being outside, check yourself, your kids, and your pets thoroughly for ticks and remove any that are attached. Then, take a shower to help remove any ticks that you may have missed. You can also throw your clothes in the dryer using high heat to help kill any ticks that might still be left. 

    DOH, PDE and DCNR encourage Pennsylvanians to be safe when enjoying the outdoors and want to remind people of the benefits of recreating outdoors despite the risk of tick-borne illnesses. Those benefits include: 

    *Improving cardiovascular health; 

    *Strengthening muscles and bones; 

    *Reducing chances of suffering chronic diseases; 

    *Reducing stress levels and improving mental health; and 

    *Becoming more socially connected. 

    “Raising awareness about ticks, Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses through this competition is a creative way to help address a major public health issue,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “Ticks are prevalent on public lands, such as the state parks and forests DCNR manages, but they also can be found in places people frequently visit, including areas where children play. We are grateful for the partnership within our state agencies to help reinforce this important message.” 

    For more information on Lyme disease, visit the Department of Health’s website at www.health.pa.gov or follow the Department of Health on Facebook and Twitter

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