Lyme disease is on the rise, what you need to know

Lyme disease is on the rise, what you need to know

FOX19 - With summer fast-approaching, experts are predicting more Lyme disease infections due to a larger tick population. The CDC says there are 30,000 reported cases of Lyme disease each year, but the agency says the real volume of incidents exceed 300,000.

"We had such a mild winter and a lot of the rodent population didn't die off," Gene Kritsky, a biology professor at Mount Saint Joseph said. "That's leading state officials to predict we'll have a large tick population this year."

If you discover you are bitten, Kritsky recommend using fine-tipped tweezers, grasping the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull it out upward.

He recommends checking yourself on warmer parts of your body like the armpits after outdoor activities such as yard work and hiking.

"You're gonna wanna check the bellybutton," Kitsky said.

What you need to know about Lyme disease: 

If I'm bitten by a tick, do I have Lyme disease? 

It depends what kind of tick you are bitten by. Only blacklegged ticks transmit the bacteria that spark Lyme disease. The CDC recommends you seek medical care right away if you develop illness. Ticks can also transmit other illnesses.

What are the symptoms? 

Early signs and symptom of Lyme disease includes headache, fatigue, fever, chills, joint pain and swollen lymph nodes, according to the CDC. Most infections cash a rash, of that about 30 percent of those rashes have a "bull's-eye" that is uniformly round and red.

As the infection continues, symptoms can include:

  • Severe headache or neck stiffness
  • Additional rashes on other areas of the body
  • Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly in the knees
  • Loss of muscle tone or “drooping” on one or both sides of the face.
  • Heart palpitation or an irregular heartbeat
  • Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
  • Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet

Can Lyme disease be transmitted sexually? 

The CDC reports there are no credible reports that find Lyme disease can be transmitted through sexual contact.

What if I'm pregnant? 

You must contact your physician immediately. Untreated Lyme disease may lead to the infection of the placenta and potentially cause a stillbirth.

How is it treated? 

Doctors prescribe antibiotics such as tetracycline and amoxicillin for 10-21 days. Full recoveries are likely.

Why is Lyme disease spreading? 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says climate change is one of the lead causes of the expanding tick population, leading to rising levels of Lyme disease cases.

EPA's reports on volume of cases of Lyme disease in the United States: 

The spread of Lyme disease is one of the lead metrics the EPA uses to analyze the cause and spread of climate change, along with coastal flooding and the length of growing seasons.

The map below represents reported cases of Lyme disease in 1996 and 2014. The findings by the EPA focuses on parts of the United States where Lyme disease is most common.

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