As the weather warms everyone heads outdoors for recreation and fun. Remember though, as residents of southeastern PA, check yourself for ticks when you come back inside. May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month in Pennsylvania and the PA Lyme Resource Network is ready to help residents get all the information they need about how to handle ticks and stay healthy this outdoor season.
The local non-profit educates the public on the prevalence of the disease as well as supports patients who are experiencing Lyme symptoms or have received a diagnosis. Their mission includes educational seminars, prevention literature and providing a network of active support groups for people struggling with the aftermath of a diagnosis.
The group’s educational programs stress preventative measures to decrease the number of tick bites and the incidence of Lyme disease as well as other tick-borne diseases. The organization, funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, has started a state-wide, community based program called “Dare 2B Tick Aware.” Certified Network faculty deliver seminars, distribute literature and participate in public service announcements. Seminars teach participants about ticks and the various types of diseases that could potentially result from a tick bite. They also cover prevention tips, what to do if you find a tick on you, recognizing symptoms of Lyme disease, and resources for medical help.
The Network’s website also provides quick tips on self-protection, checking for ticks and how to make your yard less inviting for these tiny creatures. The page is located here.
Unfortunately, Lyme disease is a frequently misdiagnosed illness and is even called “the Great Imitator.” Many of the early symptoms, such as fatigue, muscle pain and headaches look like flu. In fact, nearly 150 symptoms of Lyme are core symptoms of other diseases. As a result, many people are initially misdiagnosed with other illnesses such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and more. This result often leaves many patients frustrated and delayed in receiving appropriate medical care.
PA Lyme Network works hard to support individuals who have been diagnosed with Lyme or are struggling to find answers. They are in fact a statewide network of local support groups that meet monthly. Each group provides information and emotional support to people effected by the disease within local communities. Originally, begun in North Wales, PA, the Network has three support groups meeting in the Bucks-Mont area. Groups meet in North Wales, Doylestown and Langhorne. Meeting times, contact information and directions are available on the website (click here) as well as the locations of groups state-wide. Contact information for other non-affiliated and online support groups is provided too.
Ticks in PA
The incidence of tick related diseases is on the rise nationwide, but particularly locally. In fact, Pennsylvania ranks first in the number of Lyme cases reported to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). In 2016, medically confirmed occurrences topped out at 8,988. Locally, Montgomery County confirmed 606 cases and Bucks County confirmed 500 cases that year. Complete stateside and national statistics are available on TickCheck.