Lyme Disease Cases Increasing in Southwest Va. - FOX 21/27 WFXR Roanoke/WWCW Lynchburg News, Weather

Lyme Disease Cases Increasing in Southwest Va.

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Virginia is seeing more cases of Lyme disease right now, and we're still in the middle of tick season.

The bacteria that cause Lyme disease are transmitted through the bites of infected ticks. We checked Department of Health surveillance data and found there were 29 cases of Lyme disease in Southwest and Central Virginia through June. That's seven more cases than by this time last year. VDH says, "Bacteria isn't likely to spread unless the tick has been attached to your body for at least 36 hours," but that may not always be the case.

Sylvia Davis says she found a tick on her son when he went to bed after playing outside. She says he felt achy for two weeks but had more serious symptoms before she knew something was really wrong. "I didn't know he truly had something wrong with him until he broke out with Bell's Palsy," she said. "What I did was a Google search on 'droopy face' and there's 16 things that can cause the drooping face and one of them is Lyme disease. Then I'm like, bingo. It was five hours after that the rash appeared."

Pediatrician Dr. David Berry says that is a typical case. "Lyme often has very non-specific findings, so the kids just don't feel well. They're achy, they're tired, or they don't want to play or lose their appetite and have a headache or a belly ache. Then it starts to gain more symptoms and you see a better picture of it."

Berry says most cases are treated successfully with antibiotics.

VDH suggests steps you can take to reduce the chances of getting Lyme disease, including using insect repellent that contains 20 percent or more Deet. Check your clothing and body after you've been outside and, when you can, wear clothing that covers you up.