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Fri., Sep. 4
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Lyme disease cases up sharply; health officials urge prevention


Incidents of Lyme disease are up sharply in Jefferson County, where already this season there have been nearly 50 percent more confirmed cases than in all of last year.

Other counties also are reporting cases, which may be on the rise because of wet weather.

Faith E. Lustik, Jefferson County Public Health Service health planner, said that an abundance of rain has spurred grass to grow, creating an ideal environment for disease-carrying ticks. Lyme disease typically appears in late spring and increases through summer and fall, when people are outdoors more.

“It’s an increase already, and it’s not even fall,” Ms. Lustik said. “We’re seeing more Lyme disease because there’s more ticks.”

In 2012, there were 43 lab-confirmed cases in Jefferson County, and so far this year, there have been 61 confirmed cases. The number of cases typically increases in the fall, when many north country residents go out hunting.

“The most important thing is prevention,” Ms. Lustik said. People can remove ticks themselves “but have to use the tweezer method. It should be done as close to the heads as possible, then squeeze and pull it straight off.”

If people try to remove ticks by other methods, bacteria carried by the insects could spread further throughout the body. Ms. Lustik said it’s most important to have a tick removed immediately, and if a tick has been on or in someone for more than 24 hours, he or she should contact a health care provider.

Lyme disease can lead to a bull’s-eye-like rash and can exacerbate arthritic symptoms. Flu-like symptoms may also occur. If necessary, the disease can be treated with antibiotics.

Massena Memorial Hospital in St. Lawrence County has reported nine confirmed cases of Lyme disease just since Aug. 1. According to a recent hospital news release, the hospital’s walk-in clinic has treated many cases and has removed many ticks this summer.

Meanwhile, the Lewis County Public Health Agency reported only one Lyme disease case, which has yet to be lab-confirmed.

For more information about Lyme disease, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website,

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