PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Wooded areas are tick bite territory. Even in winter, ticks can be active.

To feed, ticks attach firmly to a host – human or animal – slowly sucking blood for several days.

They belong to the same family as spiders and scorpions. Both animal and human emergency rooms are seeing a surge in tick bites.

“As people do more hiking or seeing the leaves change color on the trees, they’re putting themselves at exposure to ticks and tick bites,” Dr. Omar Hammad, an emergency room physician at Allegheny General Hospital, said.

Ticks carry diseases from Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever to Lyme Disease.

“Oftentimes we will treat you with prophylactic antibiotics if you have been bitten by a tick,” Dr. Hammad explained.

Tick removal is the same for pets or people.

First apply antiseptic surrounding the bite area.

Use blunt, medium-tipped angled tweezers.

Close the tweezers around the tick as close to the skin as possible – and remove tick with a slow, steady upward pressure.

“We are having a hard time keeping things on the shelves,” Stephanie Grosick, a manager at Petco, said.

At Petco on McKnight Road, pet owners are picking up plenty of tick bite prevention products. But consult your veterinarian before making a choice.

“Just check, kind of part the hair and ticks particularly like around the head and ears,” Dr. Sandra Sargent, a veterinary dermatologist at Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center, said.

If your animals go out, Dr. Sargent recommends giving them a daily once over. She too is getting more calls about ticks lately and seeing them on her own dogs.

“And when you do find them, to remove them it’s good to put a pair of gloves on because if you crush the tick and get blood on you, you could get one of the diseases that ticks carry,” she added.

Ticks have to be attached for at least 24 hours to allow any possible transmission of diseases. Any questions – call your physician or veterinarian.  

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Lyme Disease

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