PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Allegheny County Health Department announced the number of Lyme Disease cases has nearly doubled over the last decade.
“Five, certainly 10 years ago, you just didn’t find ticks,” said Dr. Thomas Simmons.
The infection comes from certain ticks, commonly known as Deer Ticks, carrying the bacteria. The spiral-shaped microbes flow out of their bodies and into yours when they bite and feed.
“There’s a tremendous increase in the abundance of ticks in southwestern Pennsylvania,” said Dr. Simmons.
The latest numbers are on-par with what is found in Lyme, Connecticut and New York, where the disease has been a problem for years.
Turns out, it’s not the deer necessarily that provide a good environment for the ticks.
“There are many hosts,” said Simmons. “For the tick, in general, there are more than 125 different species of vertebrates which are known to be parasitized by the tick.”
He says they include raccoons, skunks, foxes and opossums.
Because these creatures live in the woods, outdoor activities can put you at risk.
In an area with Nymph Ticks, about half carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.
“Eighty percent or more of Lyme disease cases are due to the Nymphs,” said Simmons. “Which actually are starting to peak right now.”
At this level, there’s little room for a big increase.
“The abundance of ticks will increase, and the infection prevalence will probably stay the same,” said Simmons.