BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – As the weather gets warmer and more people are heading outside, one local group is warning us to watch out for ticks. Especially in light of Lyme Disease Awareness Month.
“People are active and out, and the ticks are active and out,” said Connie Moschell, president of the Northeast Ohio Lyme Foundation. “So, yes, it’s a time of year where we focus our awareness even though we do raise awareness all year long.”
The foundation was created to help people battling Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.
This weekend, the group’s fourth-annual Lyme Disease Symposium was postponed due to COVID-19. The event brings experts from around the country together to spread their knowledge and concern regarding the disease.
“It usually has no symptoms,” Dr. Beatrice Szantyr said. “It doesn’t itch, it doesn’t burn — but it can itch, can burn but usually not.”
Szantyr was one of the speakers who planned on coming to Youngstown this weekend. She explained early detection of tick bites is the easiest way to avoid potential serious harm.
She said data shows at least 30% of people with Lyme disease do not have a rash at the start of infection. The most common Lyme disease rash is uniformly red and expands.
In Ohio, there are 293 cases of Lyme disease — double the cases there were in 2015.
Szantyr believes there are more cases than are being reported.
Ohio Lyme disease numbers are increasing. The peak age groups for Lyme disease are children ages 5 to 14 and adults ages 45 to 54, but it doesn’t discriminate.
Bob Giguere works with IGENEX Inc., a company that tests for tick-borne diseases. He said before you test for Lyme disease, find out the test’s accuracy rate because they can vary.
“That way, you’ll give the clinician that comes after the right data to move forward and treat the patient.”
Experts advise people to shower within two hours of outdoor activity and examine their bodies for ticks.
Szantyr said methods of removing ticks, like burning them or putting nail polish on them, can make it worse. She said using tweezers with steady pressure will pull the tick straight out.
The 2020 Lyme Disease Symposium has been tentatively rescheduled for Saturday, September 26.