Fewer cases of Lyme disease reported so far this year
The numbers of local Lyme disease cases seen in people by this time of year have dwindled over the past two years.
Morgan County Health Department administrator Margie Allgyer said that they’ve had only two official cases of Lyme disease reported in the last couple of months.
Last year by late June the Health Department had four confirmed cases. It then had eight confirmed cases reported in the following three weeks. Two years ago they had 12 cases reported by this time of year.
Dr. Matthew Hahn of Hahn and Nelson Family Medicine said that he and Dr. Marilyn Nelson were seeing about half of the number of cases that they had at this time last year. Some were confirmed Lyme disease cases, while others weren’t.
Last year they had seen five or six cases of the disease by mid-June and then had six more confirmed cases in the following two weeks. Two years ago at this time they were seeing two to three cases a day. Hahn had thought they’d be seeing more Lyme disease cases with the hot weather the area was having.
Symptoms of Lyme disease can include fever, headache, flu-like symptoms and joint pains for up to a week with no obvious cause.
Some patients get a very red round or oval rash that’s at least 4-6 inches in size. Sometimes that rash will have an outer ring with a clearing inside and a red center, creating a bull’s eye appearance. Around 20% of patients have no rash, Hahn said. The rash can get very large.
If someone has the characteristic rash, no testing needs done and they need to be treated with a full course of antibiotics, he said. The sooner they’re seen, the better.
Get treated early
Acute cases of Lyme disease that are caught early and treated get better, Hahn said. Three to four weeks of antibiotics such as Doxycycline or Amoxicillin are usually prescribed. In their practice, they treat potential Lyme disease with antibiotics.
If untreated, the disease can spread to the joints, heart and nervous system, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In rare cases, it can be fatal.
Check for ticks
Check yourself, children and pets for ticks daily. If a tick is found, remove it as soon as possible. The ticks that carry Lyme disease are very small.
If you think you’ve been exposed to Lyme disease and have symptoms, especially a rash or a rash with a bull’s eye, see your physician.