Warm temperatures to bring uptick in Lyme disease cases - WFSB 3 Connecticut

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Warm temperatures to bring uptick in Lyme disease cases

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With warmer months ahead, experts are warning that summer time will bring an uptick in Lyme disease cases.

Eyewitness News spoke with an expert about some new concerns and safety guidelines when it comes to removing a tick.

“Any tick bite is a high risk tick bite in CT,” Dr. Tom Moorcroft said.

June through August is usually the most common time for people to get Lyme disease. But, Moorcroft said he started seeing a number of patients back in January, due to the mild winter.

“About a year-and-a-half ago, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) re-did its estimates, and they feel there's about 300,000 new cases of Lyme disease each year in the country,” Moorcroft said.

When experts extrapolate that data, it translates to about 17,000 new cases of Lyme disease in Connecticut.  What's even more alarming, is the number of cases that go undetected.

“Medical review studies have shown that the current two-tiered testing methodology recommended by the CDC is only effective about 56% of the time,” Moorcroft said. “So we're missing 44% of the people that really have Lyme disease with our current best test.”

The only symptom that tips doctors off that their patient most likely has Lyme disease, is that "bulls eye rash.”  But if that rash is not visible, the diagnosis may take months.

“The CDC also reports that about 1/3 of the cases of confirmed Lyme disease,” Moorcroft said. “The patient does not have a rash that the physician can find.”

If a person has been bitten by a tick and come down with summer flu-like symptoms, that individual needs to make sure to contact their doctor right away.

When it comes to removing that tick, the best way a person can decrease their chances of becoming infected literally rely on some patience and a pair of pointy tweezers.

Experts said they should use fine-tipped tweezers (grasp as close to surface as possible) and pull upward with steady, even pressure (no twisting/jerking). People should clean area after removing tick.

“Get some pointy tweezers, grab it as close to the skin as we can where the mouth parts are and then just lift up,” Moorcroft said. “And that may take 30 seconds. It may take 90 seconds or 2 minutes. We wait.”

Moorcroft cautions not to perform those "folklore remedies” such as burning the tick or putting petroleum jelly or nail polish on it.

“That can actually cause the tick to try and eject itself more quickly,” Moorcroft said. “And the only way to do that is to regurgitate its stomach content, which includes the Lyme disease.”

For more information on preventing tick bites, click here

To learn more about Lyme prevalence, transmission, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment (including prophylactic treatment, click here

For more information on removing a tick, click here

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