As you rake your leaves this fall, the Pa. DEP says to be aware of tick bites.By John Shumway

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – As the weather breaks for the next couple of days it will be prime time for attacking the leaves that now blanket the landscape.

However, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Biologist Christian Boyer says watch out.

“There are ticks, this is the time of year when the adult black-legged ticks are emerging and becoming most active and they’re looking to mate and to also get a blood meal from hosts so that they can prepare to lay their eggs next spring,” he said.

Besides being a painful pest if you get bitten, there are more serious ramifications.

“We’re living here in Pennsylvania and we, you know, year after year we are leading the nation in the number of confirmed Lyme disease cases,” Boyer said. “So they can give you Lyme disease, but they also carry a lot of other pathogens and can make you sick as well.”

Lyme disease is serious and can cause problems with your heart, nervous system, and joints.

While ticks are rampant in the woods and along hiking paths Boyer says urban areas are prone to issues too.

“Whitetail deer do serve as the primary host for the adult black-legged ticks,” he explained. “So, the adult females will latch on to the deer, and yeah, they can be transported that way, on the deer themselves. So that’s how they get spread around.”

What if you get bit?

“If you do get a tick on you, um, the biggest thing is to get them off of you as soon as possible,” Boyer said.

And that is a somewhat delicate process.

“Get tweezers and get as close to the skin and pull gently, you know, straight away from it,” he said. “Don’t twist it, just pull it out, very gently, and straight out, and then, and then clean the area where the tick did bite you.”

You will know within a couple of days if the tick infected you.

WATCH: How To Repel Ticks

As for repellants Boyer says, “Anything containing Deet. Products out there that contain Deet will repel them. Some people like to put permethrin based product on their clothing. They can spray their clothing with that, and that kills the ticks.”

And don’t think a good ‘killing frost’ will end the tick threat.

“Nope, the adult black-legged ticks are out all winter,” Boyer said. “Tick checks are a huge thing, you know when you come inside. Do your tick checks and make sure that you’re very vigilant and have somebody else check your back. Check those areas behind your ears behind your knees and your armpits you know those in your groin area that’s where these ticks will, they’ll search for those areas, and that’s where they’ll attach.”

Boyer says take a shower and put your clothes in a hot dryer.

And don’t forget to check your pets!

Pets can carry ticks into your home where the tick will drop off and then come looking for you.