Lyme Disease Awareness Month


April 27, 2009

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors proclaimed the month of May as Lyme Disease Awareness Month. As warm weather arrives and people spend more time outdoors, it becomes more important to acknowledge the impact of Lyme disease in our community.

"Lyme disease has affected hundreds of people in Fairfax County over the last two years," said Jorge Arias, Ph.D., supervisor of the health department's disease carrying insects program. "But, residents who are aware of the threat can easily take steps to protect themselves."

Protection

  • Avoid tick-infested areas (overgrown grass, brush, leaf litter)
  • Use tick repellent with DEET
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to protect your skin
  • Wear light-colored clothing to see ticks easily
  • Check for ticks after outdoor activities and remove ticks promptly

Health Department experts believe many Lyme disease cases go unreported, estimating that as many as 2,000 people were exposed to Lyme disease in Fairfax County last year alone. Ticks are commonly found throughout Northern Virginia in wooded areas, back yards, and can even be found in the front yards of town houses.

Facts

  • Black Legged or Deer ticks transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease
  • 190 cases of Lyme disease were reported in Fairfax County in 2008
  • 5 to 13 percent of ticks tested by the health department were carrying the bacteria that causes Lyme disease

In recognition of Lyme Disease Awareness Month, the Fairfax County Health Department is partnering with the National Capital Lyme and Tick Borne Disease Association. Throughout the month of May, the Health Department's Disease Carrying Insect Program's staff will continue its tick surveillance, tick identification, and Lyme disease education programs in an effort to protect area residents from tick-borne diseases. Educational materials are available on the Health Department Web site in three languages.

Early Lyme disease symptoms

  • Bull's-eye rash within 30 days of the bite
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle and joint pain

If untreated, the infection may become more serious. This could cause additional symptoms that may appear separately including loss of muscle tone in the face, severe headaches, neck stiffness, or heart palpitations. To learn more about Lyme disease visit the health department's website.


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