VDH: Lyme disease rates remain high

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It's ugly, painful, and spreading throughout Virginia. Tonight, the state health department is warning people about Lyme Disease.

The mark is healing now, but not long after Donna Guernsey had what first looked like a bulls eye on her arm, the pain started...and hasn't gone away.

"I can't grab onto anything. It hurts, like I have arthritis, which I'm too young for," said Guernsey, who lives in Colonial Heights.

The 27-year-old mother of one recently was diagnosed with Lyme Disease; a tick-borne illness that's tripled in Virginia over the last ten years. Typically, symptoms include a rash, muscle aches, and sometimes, severe pain.

"I feel like I'm pregnant times ten," Guernsey said.

The Virginia Department of Health is warning people about Lyme Disease, which is spreading in Virginia, farther South and West. Experts recommend bug spray, long sleeves, and pants...especially if you go walking in the woods.

"Usually, ticks will actually get on a person's body by crawling up the shoes, and then up the leg. So tucking the pants into the socks can be very effective," said Dr. Keri Hall, Director of Epidemiology at VHD.

If you do see a tick on your skin, experts say be careful how you remove it.

"If a tick is squeezed when it's removed out, it can actually regurgitate into the wound. And if you jerk or twist the tick, the tick's head parts can be left in the skin and cause significant problems," Hall said.

Donna's taking medicine now for the pain and other symptoms. She's getting better, but wishes she knew then, what she knows now.

"I just don't want to see anybody else go through this, it's been horrible," Guernsey said.

Only the blacklegged tick transmits Lyme Disease. It has to be on your skin for at least 36 hours to do the job. Using tweezers to carefully remove it at its head is your best chance of avoiding the illness.

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