health officials urge vigilance as we enter tick season

It’s highly likely that many people across Pennsylvania spent the majority of the long Memorial Day holiday weekend outside, soaking up the sun and catching up on their favorite outdoor activities.

However, now that these warmer temperatures are here to stay, both state and federal health officials are reminding everyone — from the avid camper to the occasional gardener — to remain incredibly vigilant about the threat posed by Lyme disease.

Do we really need to worry about Lyme disease in Pennsylvania?

Absolutely. Statistics show that Pennsylvania had the most confirmed cases of Lyme disease in the nation in 2013 with 4,981. Indeed, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection has indicated that all 67 counties in the state now have sizeable populations of juvenile black-legged ticks — more commonly known as deer ticks — whose bites are the most common cause of Lyme disease.

This becomes all the more remarkable when you consider that as recently as the 1960s, there were no deer ticks found in Pennsylvania. Experts suspect that both real estate development and changing climate patterns may be some of the primary reasons for the state’s increase in Lyme disease cases.

Has this high number of cases here in Pennsylvania been verified?

Somewhat shockingly, officials believe that the number of Lyme disease cases here in the Keystone State may actually be higher than reported given that its symptoms, which we will discuss later, can be mistaken with other illnesses and therefore go undiagnosed/unreported.

How exactly do deer ticks spread Lyme disease?

Infected juvenile deer ticks, which are often difficult to spot given their small size, typically introduce the bacteria that cause Lyme disease into the bloodstream of human hosts after being attached for roughly 24 hours.

We will continue this discussion in our next post, examining some of the symptoms and signs of Lyme disease, as well as prevention tips. We’ll also look at whether medical malpractice comes into play into these cases.

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