Josh DeLay is ticked off about Lyme disease and rightfully so.

In 2017, Pennsylvania topped the nation with 9,250 confirmed cases and 2,650 probable, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost as many as found in New England states combined.

DeLay, 35, of Beaver Falls, owner of DLay ’n Ink Tattoos and Body Piercing in New Brighton, is among 35 tattoo artists across the country participating in Ink to End Lyme, an event to increase awareness and raise money to treat and cure the tick-borne illness now detected in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The majority of cases are concentrated in the Northeast and upper Midwest.

DeLay said he will donate all proceeds from tattoos and body piercings Jan. 30 to Lyme research. He’s freed his schedule from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. to accommodate walk-in customers. On an average day, he has four to five appointments and charges $85 an hour.

This is the third year for Ink to End Lyme, sponsored by nonprofit Lyme Warrior — a team of people with chronic Lyme disease working to find better treatment, testing and understanding of the illness. DLay’n Ink is one of three tattoo shops in Pennsylvania participating. The other two are near Philadelphia.

DeLay learned of the event through Facebook when tagged by a friend last month. A few days later, a client told him she was just diagnosed with the disease. DeLay thought that was more than coincidence and took it as a sign to get involved.

“If you can help, you should. It’s one day of my time,” he said, adding that he’s supported fundraisers to help animals, veterans and community projects such as the ongoing one in Beaver Falls to raise money to repair and reopen Tigerland Wave Pool.

When first diagnosed with diabetes years ago, he didn’t have health insurance.

“I was going to the clinic in Beaver Falls. Thank God, they had a (funding) program set up and I was able to get insulin,” he said.

Funding should be available to advance research for Lyme disease, too, he said.

“It’s a shame. There should be a cure. Why isn’t there?” he said.

The past month, DeLay’s Googled tattoo flash cards — designs printed on paper or cardboard to give customers ideas — of Lyme-related images and has also been hand drawing his own. Images range from the simplicity of the lime-green Lyme disease awareness ribbon, a bandaged lime, to more intricate drawings of disease-carrying animals — white-tailed deer, mice, chipmunks, gray squirrels, opossums and raccoons.

Of course, customers don’t have to be inked with Lyme-related tattoos. They can choose whatever design they want.

But customers must be 18 or older. In Pennsylvania, it’s unlawful to tattoo anyone under 18 without the presence and consent of a parent or guardian. Tattoo artists who violate the law face a third-degree misdemeanor charge, which can lead to a $100 fine or up to three years in prison.

Lyme Warrior founder Lauren Lovejoy of Blacksburg, Va., said it took years before she was correctly diagnosed with the disease and she slowly became sicker and sicker. A self-described workaholic, she found herself mostly bedbound.

“I was so lightheaded, shaky, and generally weak, that I had issues functioning at my office job,” she wrote on the Lyme Warrior website. “I went to doctor after doctor, but after another month full of missed days of work, I had to acknowledge that I could not function. I spent almost every day in bed.”

A tattoo devotee, she organized artists around the country to help her cause in the education of Lyme disease and her mission to raise funds. Last year, $12,000 was raised.

In Mid-Atlantic states, including Pennsylvania, blacklegged ticks infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi spread the disease to humans by attaching themselves to the body — usually hard-to-see areas such as scalp, groin and armpits — and then biting flesh.

Annually, the number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease in the United States approximates 300,000, according to the CDC.

Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pain and characteristic bull’s-eye patterned rash. Untreated, infection can spread to joints, heart and nervous system. If treated with antibiotics early, people usually recover, the CDC said.

Most cases of Lyme are missed, according to Lyme Warriors. Standard testing is only 20 to 30 percent accurate. Lovejoy said she was misdiagnosed twice.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health’s 2017 Lyme Disease Report indicated Beaver County had 211 cases. Allegheny County had 432, and Lawrence County had 82. Butler County had the most with 658.

DeLay thinks development of wilderness areas forcing humans and animals to share habitats helps spread Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses.

“We’re getting closer to the woods, and the woods are getting closer to us,” he said. “I heard about coyotes in Beaver Falls yesterday. Someone saw a coyote. If you think about it, they’re cutting trees down everywhere. Look at Chippewa (Township). It used to be all woods.”

Lovejoy also blames climate change and global warming.

And something even more alarming, she said: “an asexual tick that doesn’t need a partner to reproduce.”

The invasive Asian longhorn tick was discovered in Pennsylvania’s Centre County last year.



If you find an attached tick, GET TO THE DOCTOR RIGHT AWAY!  Do not take a “wait and see approach.”  Everyone admits that treating for this promptly makes all the difference.  Why wait?  It’s not worth the gamble.  If it were me, I’d demand prophylactic treatment.  For more on all things Lyme:

  • Take a picture of the tick
  • Put it in a sealed baggie and stick it into the freezer
  • Take pictures of any rashes.  They are notorious for coming and going.  By the time you get to the doctor it might be gone.

It’s true that most cases are missed and that testing is abysmal, but the information on waiting for a fever and rash are just as deluded.  

Fewer than 50% recall a rash and many rashes are “atypical.”  

Dr. Klinghardt has stated that a bulls-eye rash only happens on subsequent tick bites – not the first one.  One thing’s for sure –

IF you have an EM rash, YOU HAVE LYME, period.

For prevention:  Burning gave a 98% reduction in ticks.

Lastly, do your reading before considering a tattoo.  Tattoos are not without significant health risks:  In brief:

  • Tattoo ink can be toxic & contain carcinogens (including metals)
  • Tattoos can lead to errors in medical treatment (MRI burns & swelling, tattoo ink appearing as malignant cells)
  • Tattoos can cause infections (HIV, hepatitis C, staph, mycobacteria)
  • They can lead to tattoo-induced skin disorders (sarcoidosis, lichen planis)
  • They can cause allergic reactions
  • They can cause scarring
  • They can cause granulomas (bumps to encapsulate foreign substances such as ink particles)
  • Lyme/MSIDS patients are already in an epic battle for their health.  Purposely adding anything that assaults the body isn’t wise.
 “Tattoo ink has risk of infection”  (Click on this link to learn more) 

Approx. 45 Sec

Published on Sep 28, 2012

Nearly 40 individuals across the US exhibited unusual rashes after receiving tattoos. After an investigation, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed 22 skin infections spanning over four states in the past year. The symptoms are linked to tattoo ink contaminated with M. Chelonae. This cousin of tuberculosis entered the ink via contaminated water used during the distillation process.