Tick-borne diseases pose ‘public health crisis’ in PA, experts say
PITTSBURGH — Pennsylvania continues to be a top state for Lyme disease, the most common tick-borne infection, and experts are urging awareness and caution.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health estimates that the state could have as many as 100,000 cases of Lyme disease each year.
“Pennsylvania is ground zero for ticks and tick-borne illnesses,” said Nicole Chinnici, the Director of the Tick Research Lab of Pennsylvania at East Stroudsburg University. “It has a lot to do with our geographical landscape and our protected land and having a decent amount of forest coverage. So with that… we have a huge public health crisis in our state, and it needs to be addressed.”
The lab tests ticks for free, determining the type of tick and potential infection. Last year, about 30,000 came from Pennsylvania residents, she said. Data show about a third of all ticks test for some type of illness.
And, more than half of people who submit ticks report having been bitten while in their own backyards. (See link for article)
- Chinnici states your own backyard is the greatest risk because you don’t consider it a risk.
- Dr. Shannon Smith, DC and LLMD states some that are infected never see a tick or a rash.
- Smith states some of his patients have been misdiagnosed for years.
- One such patient initially had fatigue but then developed iron deficiency and Celiac’s disease. Treatment has already begun to help by improving her memory and emotions as Lyme can cause depression.
- Many misdiagnosed patients fall through the cracks due to a negative test.
- Joint pain or facial drooping are classic symptoms but other symptoms include brain fog, speech difficulties, or fibromyalgia symptoms.
- Smith recommends testing for other infections as well as they can cause other symptoms like GI issues.
- Pets can bring ticks into the home.
- Smith recommends taking a lint roller and roll it all over your body as ticks don’t quickly embed.
- Wear tick repellent and bright/light colors
- It is recommended to wear tick repellent and bright colors that make it easier to spot a tick. If you find a tick that’s attached, you want to use a fine-point tweezer, grabbing at the base of the mouth. More tips can be found on the lab’s blog: https://www.ticklab.org/blog/