BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – A serious disease that can cause life-long problems is on the rise in Ohio. This could be the worst year for Lyme disease.
In the tall grass and thick brush you walk next to in the park another creature is also walking – the blacklegged tick. Also known as the deer tick, the insect is on the rise in Northeast Ohio, moving westward from Pennsylvania.
The ticks can spread Lyme disease to humans and dogs. According to the Ohio Department of Health, the rise in these ticks has resulted in a 360 percent increase of human Lyme disease cases in Ohio since 2010. Just last year there were 160 cases.
“It’s transmitted by the nymph stage and the nymph stage is around usually from the end of March, depending on how warm it is in the Mahoning Valley, all the way through November,” said Eric Barrett, Ohio State Extension educator.
Barrett says it’s important for everyone to check for the insect on themselves and pets.It’s also important to know the signs of Lyme disease.
“Is there a rash in that area, which could be a sign. A lot of times it is not just a rash but it is very flu-like symptoms where they get a fever and feel achy as well,” Barrett said.
In dogs, you’ll notice fever, swollen joints and eventually kidney problems. If left untreated, the disease can spread to the joints, heart and nervous system.
While dog owners can give their pet medication that will kill the tick, it is harder to prevent in humans. Barrett says bug spray won’t always stop them but wearing light colored clothes will help with spotting the bug if it gets on you. It’s best to cover as much skin as possible. When you get home, make sure to put those clothes directly in the wash and check young children.
“You always want to save a tick that you pull off of anyone. Put it in rubbing alcohol. Put it into a clear plastic bag. Save that tick. We will help identify it and their physician can them help them figure out if they have the disease,” Barrett said.
Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics once you have a correct diagnosis.