Tips to treat Lyme disease as uptick in Pennsylvania raises health concerns

There’s been an uptick in Lyme disease cases in the area and that has health officials wanting everyone to be alert this summer.

According to Department of Health Data, Chester County is reporting more than 420 cases of Lyme disease so far this year and the number of cases in the area are expected to keep climbing.

"I found a deer tick on my neck the other night," Dr. Mike Cirigliano, with the Perlman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, said. "I’m seeing tons of cases."

Dr. Mike says he recently treated about 20 patients for potential Lyme disease. "We’re having a run, we’re having a blue light special on tick borne illnesses this year. So, I’ve seen a bunch of people with the rash. Sometimes, it’s in the groin area. Sometimes behind the knees. You have to really scour your body."

According to Pennsylvania’s Tick-borne Diseases Dashboard, Chester County has the highest number of Lyme disease cases, at 422 so far in 2024. Neighboring counties are reporting less.

"It’s very typical for the counties with the highest populations to show the highest number of cases. So we tend to see most of the cases – the Lyme disease cases in the counties around Philadelphia as well as Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is located," Pennsylvania Department of Health Epidemiologist, Leah Lind, said.

State health officials say for those who spend time outdoors in grassy, brushy or wooded areas, they should check their clothing and body for ticks.

Lind continued, "We absolutely encourage people to spend time outdoors. We know how important it is for your physical and mental health. But, just taking a few precautions. One of them would be a substance called permethrin. Permethrin is something you can buy at sporting goods stores like Dicks or Bass Pro Shop."

One of the telltale signs of tick-borne disease is bulls' eye rash, but it can also cause other symptoms such as headaches, nausea and joint or body aches.

"If there is a concern you’ve been exposed to a tick, you need to get treated and get treated quickly," Dr. Mike urged.

Pennsylvania saw over 11,000 cases of Lyme disease and state health officials believe there will be similar numbers in 2024.