Lyme Disease Risk and New Cases Spread Across Pennsylvania
Lyme disease is on the rise in Pennsylvania. In April 2015, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection reported the presence of black legged ticks and Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme, in all 67 counties. As of November 27, 2015, more than 10,000 new cases were reported for the year within the Commonwealth—an increase of 25 percent over one year and a 50 percent increase over a two-year period.
Lyme disease is easy to contract, but can be difficult to diagnose and treat. According to the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS), fewer than 50 percent of Lyme disease patients recall a tick bite or any bullseye rash. For testing, ILADS recommends a western blot performed by a lab that reports all of the bands related to Borrelia burgdorferi, as bands highly indicative of exposure are not reported in commercial Lyme tests.
Lyme is called “The Great Imitator” because its symptoms mimic many other diseases. It can affect any organ of the body, including the brain, nervous system, muscles, joints and heart, according to LymeDisease.org. Dr. Richard Horowitz, a prominent “Lyme Literate” physician, offers a free questionnaire at CanGetBetter.com/symptom-list, which can help individuals determine their likelihood of having Lyme and associated tick-borne disorders.
May is National Lyme Disease Awareness month, and PA Lyme Resource Network advises that prevention is the best course of action. The organization is hosting a patient symposium on May 14, at Eden Resort, in Lancaster. Tickets can be purchased at PALyme.org.
Tina Buehler Prins is a Lyme patient as well as a member of the all-volunteer board for PA Lyme Resource Network, a nonprofit organization chartered for charitable and educational purposes. For more information and to find local support groups, visit PALyme.org.