Pennsylvania first in US for Lyme disease

FOUNTAIN HILL, Pa. - Lyme disease is usually identified by the telltale "red bulls eye" rash, however, it can sometimes be tricky to diagnose, because its symptoms can mimic other illnesses.

“You can have a number of aches and pains and fevers, and there can also be cardiac symptoms where you can develop signs of heart block" says Dr. Jeffrey Jahre, with St. Luke's Health Network.

In 2016, Pennsylvania logged 12,092 cases of Lyme disease, which account for more than one-third of all the cases reported across the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Jahre said Pennsylvania's vast wooded areas play a role in why so many people get the disease.

"You will see really a number of different deer. We have the right kind of conditions for the propagation of the tick and we obviously have humans encroaching on their territory and vice versa," Jahre said.

It's also important to stay vigilant and try to prevent tick bites.

"The proper clothing is certainly important factor. Wear long sleeves, long pants and socks that you can tuck in when you are in grassy areas. And particularly where grassy areas meet the woods. That's where these ticks primarily are," Jahre said.

Wearing insect repellents with DEET can also help.

There are, fortunately, still treatment options for the disease.

"Antibiotics have not lost their effectiveness on Lyme disease and I think that needs to be emphasized and as it with most diseases. If you can treat early then you are going to get a better outcome than treating later," Jahre said.

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Allentown, PA 18102




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