Lyme Disease Awareness Month
May 3, 2010
County Hosting Town Meeting on Lyme Disease
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors declared the month of May 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. The Health Department will participate in a Town Meeting on Lyme Disease hosted by Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova and Supervisor Linda Q. Smyth. The meeting will be held on Saturday, May 15, 10 a.m. to noon, inside the Board Auditorium at the Fairfax County Government Center.
"Lyme disease is on rise throughout the United States," said Gloria Addo-Ayensu, M.D., M.P.H., Fairfax County Director of Health. "Because it is preventable, public education is an important component of the County's comprehensive approach to minimizing the public health impact of Lyme disease."
In Fairfax County, 260 cases of Lyme disease were reported during 2009. It is presumed that the number of reported cases represents an underestimation of the actual number of cases because not all cases are reported and it is likely that many people who are infected do not seek medical care and therefore are not tested.
"The number of cases of Lyme disease increased in Fairfax County last year, marking an all time high," said Jorge Arias, Ph.D., Supervisor of the Health Department's Disease Carrying Insects Program. "The Health Department urges residents to be aware of the threat and take steps to protect themselves."
Lyme disease is transmitted to people by the bite of an infected deer tick. There are many steps that residents can take to minimize or prevent tick bites:
- Use a DEET-based insect repellent
- Wear long, loose-fitting, light-colored clothes
- Avoid tick-infected areas such as tall grass and dense vegetation
- Control ticks around your home
- Check for ticks after outdoor activity
- Promptly remove attached ticks using fine-tipped tweezers and bring the tick to the Health Department for identification
Lyme disease can have serious consequences if not diagnosed and treated early. Residents are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the symptoms of Lyme disease. Symptoms may include:
- A bull's-eye rash that appears 3-30 days after tick exposure
- Muscle and joint aches
In an effort to minimize the public health impact of Lyme disease, Fairfax County has implemented a comprehensive approach which includes tracking of human cases; tick surveillance; public education; outreach to healthcare providers to promote early diagnosis and treatment; and deer management. To learn more about Lyme disease prevention, visit the Disease Carrying Insects Program (DCIP) website