MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Many people are enjoying their 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.
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.
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.*