"We have seen a significant increase in confirmed cases of Lyme disease in Essex County and most especially in the Champlain Valley," said Linda Beers, public-health director for the Essex County Health Department.
"We encourage people to take simple steps to prevent contracting Lyme disease."
In Franklin County, 15 cases have been confirmed this year as opposed to 10 for the same time period in 2012.
"Our sense in the county is that there is more awareness and testing occurring, so we cannot assume there is more disease occurring in the county," said Kathleen Strack, director for the Franklin County Health Department.
SHOWER OR BATHE
Steps to prevent infection include wearing light-colored clothing with long sleeves and pant legs to make it easier to spot and remove ticks and to wear insect repellents according to manufacturer's instructions.
If a tick is found attached to the skin, the preferred removal method is to grasp it with fine-point tweezers close to where the insect is attached and pull straight up. That will help prevent the tick from regurgitating any fluids infected with bacteria into the host's blood supply, Plotas-McGrath explained.
Anyone who has traveled into areas that may harbor deer ticks, including backyards that may be adjacent to forestland or may be visited by white-tailed deer, should always check themselves for any possible unwanted hitch-hikers. People can also have loved ones check the areas they cannot visibly search for ticks themselves.
"The best prevention is to shower or bathe when you come inside," Merrill said. "Place any clothing in the laundry; don't put it back on after bathing."
EARLY TREATMENT KEY
Lyme disease symptoms include the well-known bulls-eye rash that can be at the site of infection as well as other locations on the body. Fever, fatigue, headache, muscle pain and joint pain are other symptoms of a recent infection.