Pittsburgh, PA - Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy today announced the release of the 2014 Lyme disease cases by county report which showed a 25 percent increase statewide in reported cases of this serious tick-borne disease over the previous year.
“Lyme disease is present in every county in Pennsylvania,” said Murphy, speaking at a press conference with Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Karen Hacker in Pittsburgh. “The prevalence of this illness serves as a reminder for people to better protect themselves from tick bites and to know the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease. For those with the disease it is important to seek early treatment to avoid any potential long-term health complications.”
In 2014, the Department of Health recorded 7,400 cases of Lyme disease in the commonwealth, compared with 5,900 cases in 2013. The increase in cases can be attributed in part to heightened awareness about Lyme disease, better reporting, and enhanced monitoring efforts, particularly in Allegheny County.
Lyme disease is an illness transmitted through the bite of an infected blacklegged tick (also known as a deer tick). Symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, muscle aches and joint pain. A common early symptom is a red rash that looks like a bulls-eye.
Ticks can be found everywhere, but individuals should be especially cautious in areas with dense bushes or tall grass. When outdoors, use repellents with diethyltoluamide (DEET) and protective clothing. After outdoor activities, check for ticks and, if one is found, promptly remove it using fine-tipped tweezers and applying even pressure on the tick as it is being removed
Pennsylvania leads the nation in reported cases of Lyme disease and a recent study found that blacklegged ticks were found in all 67 counties. The Department of Health urges prevention, early detection and treatment in order to prevent serious health issues.
To view the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s 2014 report on Lyme disease by county, visit the Department of Health’s website and click “2014 Lyme Disease Report (Excel download).”
MEDIA CONTACT: Amy Worden, Health, 717-787-1783
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