As Lyme disease cases increase in Licking County, so do frustrations
NEWARK – More than two times as many cases of the tick-borne Lyme disease have been reported to the Licking County Health Department thus far this year, as compared to all of 2018. And the amount confirmed is even more noteworthy.
There were 17 suspected, two probable and three confirmed cases last year for a total of 22. Through Wednesday morning, there were 52 total cases, with the vast majority being confirmed.
In 2017, it was 16 suspected and 10 confirmed for a total of 26 cases.
A 2017 alert, issued by Gale Neville, Licking County Health Department Infectious Disease Nurse, said that prior to 2010, there were no known established populations of blacklegged ticks, or deer ticks, in Ohio. Since then, the tick has been found in at least 60 Ohio counties including Licking, and spreads Lyme disease through its bacteria-infected bite.
Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and a characteristic “bulls-eye” skin rash. Most cases can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. But if untreated, the infection can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system. Early treatment is key for the disease, so the quicker it’s detected, the better the outcome for the patient.
“Because Lyme disease symptoms are common to many other illnesses, including common viral infections, and because Lyme disease transmission is fairly new to Ohio, it is often mis-diagnosed and under-reported,” Licking County health commissioner Joe Ebel said last month. “Increased public education and (medical) provider awareness results in higher case counts. However, a Lyme diagnosis is sometimes missed until the symptoms have progressed.”
“We don’t have Lyme Disease in Arkansas, we have the ticks that transmit Lyme Disease but we don’t have any recorded cases of Lyme Disease.”
So because they didn’t have any “recorded” cases of Lyme, these children couldn’t have Lyme disease.
This is still a glaring problem.