Lyme disease hasn’t attracted the attention recently that it did in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when cases in central Ohio spiked. But 2015 again brought a marked increase in the number of cases in the region, along with warnings about how to avoid the potentially life-threatening tick-borne disease.
From January through September 2015, 146 cases of Lyme disease were reported to the Ohio Department of Health. Franklin County had the highest number of any county, with 17. The statewide numbers are up from 119 for all of 2014, and just 58 cases 10 years ago.
Early symptoms of the disease, often tricky to diagnose, can include fever, headache, chills and rash. Left untreated, it can lead to severe headache and neck stiffness, partial paralysis of the face (Bell’s palsy), heart palpitations, arthritis, inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, among other things.
Medical experts recommend avoiding ticks by tucking pants legs into one’s socks before heading out to wooded areas. Pre-treating clothing with the tick-deterring chemical permethrin also is recommended, along with putting all clothing into water or a washing machine upon returning home.
An extra dose of caution could save a lot of suffering.