York City Lyme disease cases dramatically increase in 2015


Lyme disease is on the rise in York City.

With five months remaining in 2015, the number of cases of Lyme disease in York City has already doubled, according to a report by the City of York – Bureau of Health.

"Many factors could be at play as to why the increase occurred," said Monica Kruger, personal health services supervisor at City of York – Bureau of Health. "The increase could be due to more people getting tested for the disease, a change in the tick population or a change in behavior of people who are being diagnosed with the disease – for example, their risk or activity for exposure."

In 2014, there were eight cases of Lyme disease in York City, rising slightly from seven cases in 2013. As of July 2015, there have been 16 cases of Lyme disease reported.

To measure the number of cases, the City of York – Bureau of Health reviews a statewide electronic database system to track city cases only.

Across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, there was a 25 percent increase in Lyme disease cases from 2013 to 2014; in York County, the number of Lyme disease cases increased by 34 percent from 2013 to 2014.

Lyme disease is caused by bacteria transmitted to humans through the bite of blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, muscle aches and joint pain.

If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system. Once diagnosed, most cases can be treated with antibiotics.

Here are some methods to prevent potential infection:

1. Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter

2. When hiking on trails, walk in the center

3. Repel ticks with DEET or Permethrin

4. Bathe or shower as soon as possible after returning indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks

5. Examine gear and pets – ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later

6. Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill any remaining ticks