The Tuscarawas County Health Department (TCHD) has recently observed a concerning surge in reported Lyme disease cases.
From April to the end of May 2023, there has been a notable 25% increase in suspected Lyme cases among Tuscarawas County residents compared to the same period last year. Currently, the TCHD is actively investigating an additional 15 suspected cases for the month of June.
Amy Kaser, RN, Director of Nursing at the Tuscarawas County Health Department, highlighted the escalating trend.
“We have witnessed a steady rise in reported Lyme Disease case rates in Tuscarawas County over the past two to three years,” she stated.
Kaser also emphasized that the actual number of Lyme disease cases is likely higher due to underreporting. She urged county residents to take precautionary measures to prevent Lyme disease and to promptly seek treatment if symptoms arise.
Canine Lyme disease cases in Tuscarawas County have experienced a slight increase in 2023. As of June 8, 2023, the Companion Animal Parasite Council reported 363 positive cases, accounting for approximately 12.26% or roughly 1 in 8 dogs tested for Lyme disease. In contrast, throughout 2022, Tuscarawas County recorded a total of 618 positive cases, representing 11.33% of dogs tested.
Lyme disease is a tickborne illness that can be transmitted to humans or pets through the bite of an infected tick. The longer the tick remains attached, the higher the likelihood of disease transmission. It typically takes between 36 to 48 hours for the tick to transmit Lyme disease bacteria.
Ticks can latch onto any part of the human body but tend to favor hard-to-see areas like the groin, armpits, and scalp. Symptoms of Lyme disease may include a distinct skin rash called erythema migrans, which often appears as a reddish-purplish bullseye pattern. Other common symptoms include fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes. In advanced stages, Lyme disease can cause severe headaches, neck stiffness, arthritis with intense joint pain and swelling, irregular heartbeat, and inflammation of the brain or spinal cord.
“It is crucial to seek immediate medical attention if any of the aforementioned symptoms are observed and receive the appropriate treatment,” emphasized Kaser.
As the number of Lyme disease cases continues to rise, residents are urged to be vigilant when spending time outdoors and take preventive measures to reduce the risk of tick bites. These precautions include wearing long sleeves and pants, using insect repellent, checking for ticks after outdoor activities, and promptly removing any attached ticks.
The Tuscarawas County Health Department remains committed to monitoring and addressing the growing Lyme disease concerns. They provide resources and guidance to help residents protect themselves and their pets from tickborne illnesses.