Increase in Lyme Disease Cases in Chester County
County Health Department gives precautionary advice for the summer season
WEST CHESTER – The Chester County Health Department reports that the number of Lyme disease cases in Chester County has increased, and the county continues to be classified as a high risk area.“Pennsylvania is second only in the nation to the state of New York regarding the reported number of Lyme disease cases,” said Margaret Rivello, Director of the Chester County Health Department. “In Chester County, we’re classified as high risk because of our many rural and suburban areas.”
The Chester County Health Department, together with other Chester County organizations, continues to undertake a number of free educational programs and preventative projects to reduce the incidence of Lyme disease within the county.
The follwing precautions are recommended for protection against Lyme disease:
- Wear clothing that covers the skin and tuck loose pants into socks.
- Wear light colored clothing because ticks are easier to spot and brush off.
- Apply insect repellent with 20-30% DEET to exposed skin (except for the face) and apply permethrin to clothes. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Walk in the center of trails to avoid contact with overgrown grass and brush.
- Keep grass mowed and trees trimmed.
- Remove brush or leave piles accumulated around stone walls or wood piles.
- Create a woodchip or mulch barrier between woodlands and your yard.
- Place swing sets and other play equipment in mulched areas away from woodland edges.
- Consider a pesticide application as a targeted barrier treatment. Consult with a professional and always follow label directions.
- Use a high-heat dryer for washing clothes. The high heat will kill most ticks that might have attached to your clothes.
- Most importantly, check yourself, your family, and your pets frequently for ticks.
The safest method to remove a tick is to use clean, fine-point tweezers and pull the tick straight out of the skin with one smooth motion. Do not use alcohol, Vaseline or a lit match, it may irritate the tick, and cause it to hold on tighter to the skin. Save the tick in a plastic bag and document the date you found it in case symptoms occur later. If symptoms occur, share the information with your doctor. Most cases of Lyme can be treated successfully with antibiotics, especially if treatment is started early. However, Lyme has been called the “Great Imitator” because the symptoms mimic many other illnesses. Common early-stage symptoms include:
- An expanding circular rash that often looks like a bull’s eye
- Joint and muscle pains
- Headache, chills, fatigue
- Swollen lymph nodes.
If not detected and treated early, late stage symptoms of Lyme disease can be more serious and may include loss of muscle tone, irregular heart beats, facial paralysis and double vision.
For more information on Lyme disease (available in English and Spanish) visit the Chester County Health Department web site. To schedule a free presentation, call 610-344-6490.