With Pennsylvania leading the nation in reported cases of Lyme disease, PA Department of Health Secretary Karen Murphy today called for increased awareness about this serious disease and outlined the department ‘s efforts to combat tick-borne diseases in Pennsylvania.
“Every county in the state is affected by Lyme disease,” said Murphy at a press conference at Lackawanna State Park. “With many cases going unreported, it is critical that we provide people with information about this disease. The ‘Don’t Let a Tick Make You Sick’ campaign seeks to alert the public about this health problem and outline the department’s efforts to address it.”
When detected early, Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics. Left untreated, the disease can spread to the joints, heart and nervous system. Early diagnosis is important in preventing late-stage complications.
The first line of defense against Lyme is to take precautions in the outdoors by using insect repellent with DEET, wearing long sleeve shirts and long pants, checking for – and promptly and properly removing – any ticks, and showering shortly after exposure.
The recently-released 2014 Lyme statistics show increases in reported Lyme cases in most counties in the state. For the past five years, Pennsylvania has lead the nation in reported Lyme disease cases.
Murphy said the findings and recommendations of the state’s first-ever Lyme Disease Task Force will be announced later this summer. The task force, comprised of health experts and other stakeholders, was formed last year through an act of the General Assembly. The task force is charged with investigating the problem and developing recommendations regarding education and awareness, prevention and surveillance of Lyme disease.