|By State Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne)
With longer days and warmer spring weather on the way, the Pennsylvania Department of Health has issued a reminder to be aware of Lyme disease and ticks as we spend more time outdoors.
The number of cases of Lyme disease is Pennsylvania is among the highest in the country, with 11,900 cases reported in 2017. Ticks carrying Lyme disease have been found in each of the state’s 67 counties.
A $2.5 million allocation has been included in the proposed 2019-20 state budget for Lyme disease education and prevention. This sustained funding, which matches what was in the 2018-19 budget, will continue to assist in efforts to build a more robust Lyme disease program, conduct surveillance for ticks in Pennsylvania and improve participation in tickborne disease surveillance with health care providers.
Here are a few simple tips to help prevent tick bites when heading outside. Wear long sleeve shirts and long pants and use an insect repellent with DEET. After finishing time outdoors, 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 as well.
Many persons with Lyme disease are unaware they have been bitten, since ticks are very small and hard to see. If a circular rash that looks like a bulls-eye appears, you should consult with a physician, as you may have Lyme disease. However, not all persons with Lyme disease develop a rash. Other symptoms are non-specific and include fever, fatigue, headache, muscle aches and joint pain.
If you develop any signs or symptoms of Lyme disease, see your health care 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 about Lyme disease, visit www.health.pa.gov
Representative Tarah Toohil
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Rep. Toohil’s Office