Pennsylvania has always been a hot sport for Lyme disease, but new studies being conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the problem is far more widespread than earlier believed.
Previous reports from the CDC have listed about 30,000 cases of tick-borne Lyme disease each year, however, the CDC’s research from this year shows that a more accurate estimate would be 300,000 cases of the disease.
The CDC compiled data from three separate studies using medical claims, clinical laboratory records and self-reported cases to gain more accurate figures for the illness.
It found Lyme disease is currently the most widespread tick-borne illness in the United States and is most common in the Northeast and upper Midwest. The spike in the disease is not due to an increase in ticks or an epidemic of the illness, instead it is linked to more thorough research than in the past.
“We suggest that citizens wear protective clothing, they use insect repellant with DEET in it, which will also help with West Nile Virus, and do a full body check after spending time outdoors,” said Kate Gillis, a spokeswoman for the PA Department of Health. “Try showering within two hours of outdoor exposure as well.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Health recorded 5,033 cases of Lyme disease in 2012. If the CDC’s data holds true for Pennsylvania, it would mean there were actually 50,000 cases in the state.
Lyme disease causes fatigue, fever, flu-like achiness, and joint pain, as well as a mark similar to a bull’s eye at the site of the tick bite. If untreated the illness can cause long-term symptoms including arthritis, neurological and heart related ailments, and visual impairment.