Health Secretary Releases Report on Lyme Disease
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
HARRISBURG - Secretary of Health Karen Murphy today announced the release of the first-ever comprehensive report, produced by the Task Force on Lyme Disease and Related Tick-Borne Diseases, on Lyme disease in Pennsylvania to help guide the commonwealth's strategy to address this growing health problem.
For the past three years, Pennsylvania has led the nation in the reported cases of Lyme disease. Last year, the state reported 7,457 cases of the disease.
The report identified those with outdoor occupations, specifically mentioning landscape workers, as being at greatest risk of contracting the disease. The disease is transmitted from the bite of the deer tick.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, you can prevent Lyme disease by:
- Using repellents that contain 20 to 30% DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) on exposed skin and clothing for protection that lasts up to several hours. Always follow product instructions.
- Using products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants and socks with products containing 0.5% permethrin. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and may provide longer-lasting protection.
Early treatment is important if you contract Lyme disease. The symptoms of the disease are:
Early Signs and Symptoms (3 to 30 days after tick bite)
- Fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes
- Erythema migrans (EM) rash:
- Occurs in approximately 70 to 80 percent of infected persons
- Begins at the site of a tick bite after a delay of 3 to 30 days (average is about 7 days)
- Expands gradually over a period of days reaching up to 12 inches or more (30 cm) across
- May feel warm to the touch but is rarely itchy or painful
- Sometimes clears as it enlarges, resulting in a target or “bull's-eye” appearance
- May appear on any area of the body
Later Signs and Symptoms (days to months after tick bite)
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness
- Additional EM rashes on other areas of the body
- Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees and other large joints.
- Facial or Bell's palsy (loss of muscle tone or droop on one or both sides of the face)
- Intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
- Heart palpitations or an irregular heart beat (Lyme carditis)
- Episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath
- Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
- Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
- Problems with short-term memory
If you have any of these symptoms, get medical attention as soon as possible.
To read the full report of the Task Force, please click here.