Lyme disease sees signficant up-tick in Pennsylvania

    Local health officials say the number of Lyme disease cases in Pennsylvania this year will likely eclipse figures from 2009.

    By Aaron Moselle

    Local health officials say the number of Lyme disease cases in Pennsylvania this year will likely eclipse figures from 2009.

    Melissa Rankin works for the Chester County Health Department. She says the number of Lyme disease cases in Pennsylvania has increased every year over the past five.

    In 2008, more than 3,000 residents contracted the tick-borne bacterial disease.

    Relative sizes of tick species. The Blacklegged (or deer) ticks can transmit Lyme as well as other diseases. (Click for a larger image. Photo courtesy of the CDC)
    Relative sizes of ticks. The Blacklegged (or deer) ticks can transmits Lyme Disease. (Click for a larger image. Photo courtesy of the CDC)
    In 2009, that number more than doubled.

    But Rankin says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that only one in every 10 cases is reported.

    “So that means in the state of Pennsylvania, in 2009, we had close to 8,000 cases,” says Rankin. “If you say only one in 10 are confirmed, that could mean that we probably had closer to 80,000 cases of Lyme disease.”

    Rankin says correctly diagnosing Lyme disease is difficult because test results are often unreliable. This, she says, results in many cases going unreported.

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