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Jackson County reports five cases of Lyme disease

Jackson County is seeing a small increase in the number of cases of Lyme Disease this year.
Published: Jul. 14, 2020 at 4:31 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) -The Jackson County Health Department is reporting five new cases of Lyme disease this summer.

Over the last five years, Jackson County has averaged two cases of Lyme disease for the entire year. This year, the cases increased only halfway through their most active season.

The rising incidence of Lyme disease is due to a number of factors, including:

● Increased tick abundance

● Overabundant deer population

● Increased recognition of the disease

● Establishment of more residences in wooded areas

● Increased potential for contact with ticks

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted by the blacklegged, or deer, tick. It is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States and has been progressively spreading across Michigan.

Tick exposure can occur year-round, but ticks are most active during warmer months. With the steady increase in the incidence and geographic spread of Lyme disease, the Jackson County Health Department asks residents to take steps to protect themselves from tick bites.

Jackson County Health Officer Rishmi Travis said Lyme disease could cause serious health issues.

Travis said symptoms of being bit by a tick and contracting Lyme disease are “a bull-like rash that occurs in the area that the person got bit.”

“Not all cases see that,” Travis said. “Flu-like symptoms and fever. They may also develop into joint pain and stiffness in their joints.”

The majority of cases can be treated successfully with antibiotics. Finding and removing ticks promptly — within 24 hours — can prevent Lyme disease.

Travis said the best way to avoid being bit is to stay away from wooded areas, use bug repellent and wear protective clothing, including long sleeve shirts and pants.

Always check for ticks when leaving a wooded area.

“Shake your hair out because it could be potentially in areas underneath your hair or on your neck,” said Travis.

Remember not to check for ticks inside the home. They could attach themselves to children or pets.

Any ticks that are found should be removed. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after coming indoors.

Showering within two hours of coming indoors may help wash off unattached ticks and it is a good opportunity to do a tick check.

Check under the arms, in and around the hair and ears, inside the belly button, the waist and back, back of the knees and between the legs and pelvic area for ticks.

People who have removed attached ticks from themselves, including those who have received antibiotic prophylaxis, should be monitored closely for signs and symptoms of tick-borne diseases for up to 30 days; in particular, they should be monitored for the development of an expanding skin lesion at the site of the tick bite that may suggest Lyme disease.

The Jackson County Health Department is again conducting field surveillance for ticks that cause disease in humans, including Lyme disease. Environmental Health Division staff members conduct what is called a tick drag along trails and other potential tick habitats in an attempt to capture ticks.

Any captured ticks are then collected and identified.

For additional information about Lyme disease, visit the Centers for Disease Control website at https://www.cdc.gov/lyme. For information regarding tick identification and testing, visit www.michigan.gov/emergingdiseases.

If you have questions regarding ticks or Lyme disease, please contact the Jackson County Health Department Communicable Disease office at 517-768-1664.

Copyright 2020 WILX. All rights reserved.

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