Monday, April 2, 2018

Departments Of Health, DCNR Urge Residents To Learn About Lyme Disease

With longer days and warmer spring weather on the way, the Wolf Administration wants all Pennsylvanians to know what Lyme disease is, how they can get it, and the steps to take to prevent the virus.
“Lyme disease is a very serious illness, and left untreated, can cause life-threatening complications,” Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said. “It is important for people who will be spending time outdoors to protect themselves by dressing properly. After being outside, it is essential to check yourself for ticks and to shower right away.”
Pennsylvania has some of the highest numbers of cases of Lyme disease in the country, and ticks carrying Lyme disease have been found in each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.
In 2016, there were 11,443 cases of Lyme disease in the state, which was almost double the number of cases from three years earlier. Ticks that carry Lyme disease typically live in tall grasses, areas with brush and wooded areas.
Gov. Wolf has proposed $2.5 million dollars in the 2018-2019 budget toward Lyme disease education and prevention. That money will be used to build a more robust Lyme disease program, conduct surveillance for ticks in Pennsylvania, hire staff to implement recommendations, and improve participation in tickborne disease surveillance with health care providers.
Pennsylvania is home to many wonderful scenic areas, which is a huge draw to people looking to spend time outdoors.
Those who are spending time outdoors should wear long sleeve shirts and long pants and use an insect repellent with DEET. After finishing time outdoors, it is important to thoroughly check yourself for ticks, promptly remove any attached ticks and take a shower.
Showering will also help any unattached ticks to be washed off. Make sure to change clothes and place worn clothes in the dryer at a high temperature to kill any ticks that might remain.
Check pets that spend time outside too.
“Just as strong sun and severe weather demand outdoors enthusiasts be cognizant of their surroundings, the spread of ticks and related Lyme disease is important to be aware of and prepared for when heading outdoors or entering our state parks and forestlands where ticks may be prevalent,” Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “DCNR is committed to educating both our visitors and employees on the best practices, ensuring safe play and work afield.”
Many persons with Lyme disease are not aware that they have been bitten by a tick, since ticks can be very small and hard to see.
If a circular rash that looks like a bulls-eye appears, you likely have Lyme disease. However, not all persons with Lyme disease develop a rash. Other symptoms are nonspecific and include fever, fatigue, headache, muscle aches and joint pain.
If you develop any signs or symptoms of Lyme disease, see your healthcare provider immediately. When detected early, Lyme disease can be easily treated with antibiotics. If untreated, the disease can cause joint swelling, cardiac or neurologic complications, and is more difficult to treat.
For more information, visit the Department of Health’s Lyme Disease webpage.
(Photo: Deer tick.)

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