MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Many people are waiting for that summer vacation, but Midstate doctors say you should also be taking steps to prevent Lyme disease. That’s because they’re seeing an unusually high number of cases this summer.
“Based on our recent lab results with Lyme disease testing, we’re seeing quite a bit more than we did last year,” said Rebekah Wickenheiser, a physician assistant at Patient First.
Patient First is seeing more people with Lyme disease this summer than last year at all four of its central Pennsylvania locations. PinnacleHealth also reports seeing more cases.
It’s important to know the difference between ticks that cause Lyme disease and those that don’t. Deer ticks carry the disease and are usually smaller than dog ticks, which do not.
“There’s a blood test that will help us diagnose them,” Wickenheiser said. “We can then put them on antibiotics.”
The signs of early Lyme disease include a bulls-eye rash, fever, fatigue, and muscle and joint pain.
“A lot of folks will come in with those viral and very vague symptoms. Our job is to gain from their history have there been any recent tick bites. You have to remember, some folks will never ever remember being bitten by a tick,” Wickenheiser said.
The possible cause is something you might not think of. Experts believe it’s an overpopulation of acorns, infected mice eating them, and ticks biting the mice.
“With the acorns, there were more mice, more disease, more Lyme, so obviously then with the warmer weather winter, there’s actually been an increase in ticks as well because they have a longer breeding season,” said Tina Prins, vice president of Pennsylvania Lyme Resource Network.
Prins has been diagnosed with the disease.
Some prevention tips include using repellent with DEET, and checking yourself, others, and your dog after being outside.
“If you’re going to be outdoors, wear long sleeves. When you’re done being outdoors, take off the clothes a soon as you can,” Wickenheiser said.
Wickenheiser says one of the most important things is to be vigilant.
“It’s very important that we catch Lyme early so that we can treat it, and a person can very often frequently make a full recovery,” Wickenheiser said.
The Centers for Disease Control reports in 2016 more than 12,000 people contracted Lyme Disease in Pennsylvania. The state is number one in the nation for this disease.
For more tips on tick prevention from the CDC, click here. To learn how to properly remove a tick, click here. For more information about on the Pennsylvania Lyme Resource Network and meeting times for support groups, click here.