Health Department notes increase in Lyme disease

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The Harrison County Health Department has issued a press release regarding the increase in Lyme disease cases in Harrison County

As part of our Epidemiological Surveillance and Monitoring Program, the Harrison County General Health District (HCGHD) has recently observed a significant spike in the number of Lyme disease cases being reported to the Health Department.

Since June 15, the HCGHD has had eleven positive lab reports of Lyme disease reported to it, bringing the total number of reported cases to 18 for 2017. For comparison, the HCGHD had 15 lab positive reports for Lyme Disease for all of 2016.

The types of ticks found in Harrison County can transmit a variety of diseases, including Lyme disease, and 160 cases were reported in the state of Ohio last year.

“If you find a tick attached to your body, remove it and monitor your health to watch for a fever, rash, muscle or joint aches or other symptoms,” said Health Department officials. “If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider.”

Here are some tips to avoid tick bites and prevent tick-borne diseases:  

  • Avoid direct contact with ticks by avoiding wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter, and by walking in the center of trails. Ticks will normally climb to the top of tall grasses or bushes to catch a ride on the next unsuspecting host.
  • Wear clothing and gear treated with permethrin, an insecticide (do not apply permethrin directly to skin).
  • Use EPA-registered tick repellent and follow the label directions. Look for repellents with one of these active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Here are some tips for finding and removing ticks attached to your body:

  • Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
  • Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick, which can cause the mouth parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  • After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub or soap and water.
  • Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.
  • Avoid folklore remedies such as “painting” a tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly or using heat to make the tick detach from your skin.

 

 

What Lyme Disease Does

Lyme disease is spread to humans by tick bites and will cause fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes in approximately 70 to 80 percent of infected persons.

In early cases, an Erythema Migrans rash or “chronic migrating redness” often appears on the affected person, though not in all cases. It is commonly seen in the early stage of Lyme disease and appears anywhere from one day to one month after a tick bite. The rash will expand gradually over a period of days reaching up to 12 inches or more across the body and may feel warm to the touch but is rarely painful or itchy. Sometimes, as the rash enlarges, it will take the form of a “bull’s-eye” or target appearance.

As the disease progresses over the following weeks, more severe symptoms will progress in affected persons, including severe headaches and neck stiffness, additional rashes on other areas of the body, severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees and other large joints, heart palpitations and shooting pains, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet.

Persons who believe they may be infected are strongly advised to contact their doctor or ­­healthcare provider.

Insect repellent sprays containing DEET (diethyltoluamide) are also highly effective in repelling mosquitoes and ticks, but last only for several hours. Remember to reapply the repellant as necessary, but be mindful of the products instructions.

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