Allegheny County warns of uptick in Lyme disease cases

Here's a look at how small deer ticks are.
Here's a look at how small deer ticks are.
Aaron Aupperlee
| Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 2:06 p.m.

Allegheny County health officials warned residents on Tuesday to watch out for ticks because cases of Lyme disease have spiked in Western Pennsylvania.

Dr. Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Health Department, said Lyme disease, caused by a bacteria transmitted to humans by ticks that can infect joints, the heart and brain, is almost always treatable with antibiotics if caught early.

“When it goes undiagnosed and untreated, serious complications may develop such as chronic arthritis and neurologic problems,” Hacker said.

Early symptoms are often similar to a mild flu. Tick bites do not always result in a tell-tale “bull's-eye rash.”

Butler County led Western Pennsylvania counties in reported cases of Lyme disease with 332 reported in 2013, according to the state Department of Health. There were no reported cases in 2000.

Allegheny County had 145 cases reported in 2013, a sharp increase from the 16 to 35 cases per year reported between 2004 and 2008, according to the county health department.

Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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