As this weekend marks the unofficial end of summer, lots of families will be outside soaking up the sun and West Virginia health officials are urging people to be cautious when it comes to ticks.

West Virginia has seen an increase in the annual human Lyme disease cases during the past few years. As of July 24, 2019, there have been 288 Lyme disease cases in West Virginia. Compared to the same time in 2015, with only 126 reported cases in West Virginia.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by bites from Ixodes scapularis, also known as “deer” ticks or “black-legged” ticks. It is the most common tick-borne disease in the United States and West Virginia.

Symptoms of Lyme disease generally begin 3 to 30 days after the tick bite and include fever, headache, chills, and rash. However, symptoms can differ based on the patient.

Treatment is easy. However, if an infected person is not treated early with antibiotics, Lyme disease can progress over weeks to years to cause recurrent arthritis, pain and swelling at joints, facial palsy, and neurological complications.

Most cases of Lyme disease are concentrated in the northeastern and midwestern regions of the United States. In 2013, 95% of cases were reported in 14 states, including neighboring Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

As of 2016, there are eleven counties in West Virginia that are considered “endemic” for Lyme disease: Berkeley, Hampshire, Hancock, Jefferson, Kanawha, Marshall, Mineral, Morgan, Roane, Wetzel, and Wood Counties.

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