2009-06-11 / Features

Lyme Disease Precautions Needed During Summer Months, Says Hess

Summer is near and Rep. Dick Hess (R-Bedford / Fulton / Huntingdon) is partnering with the Pennsylvania Department of Health to remind residents of the dangers of Lyme disease.

According to information provided by the Department of Health, the first and most effective line of defense against Lyme disease is prevention. The best ways to prevent tick-borne illnesses are to avoid tick-infested habitats, use personal protective measures such as repellents and protective clothing, and frequently check for and remove attached ticks when in an infested habitat.

"Lyme disease affects thousands of Pennsylvania residents each year," Hess said, referencing the more than 2,100 cases reported in 2007. "It's important for the medical community and state officials to work together to ensure the public is made aware of this illness and given the proper precautionary measures to avoid contracting this infection."

Early diagnosis is also important in fighting Lyme disease. Most cases of the disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics, especially if treatment is started early enough. However, left untreated or inadequately treated, the infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system, resulting in increasingly serious complications and requiring intensive therapy.

Lyme disease can infect several different parts of the body making diagnosis difficult. Symptoms often vary from person to person. However, typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and a characteristic circular skin rash called Eythema Migrans (EM).

EMs are usually the first sign of infection and occur at the site of the tick bite. The rash, which occurs in approximately 85 percent of infected persons, is normally evident after a delay of three to 30 days. Moreover, one of the distinctive characteristics of EMs is that they gradually expand over the course of several days and can reach nearly 12 inches in diameter.

"If you think you have the symptoms of Lyme disease, it is important to visit your physician," Hess said. "Early diagnosis is crucial to avoiding the longterm effects of this disease."

Residents are encouraged to visit Hess' Web site at Dick- Hess.com and click on "Lyme Disease" for more information.

Return to top