COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–The tick-borne illness known as Lyme disease, has been steadily increasing here in Ohio over the past decade.
Data from the Ohio Department of Health shows that the number of Lyme disease cases has risen from 44 cases in 2010 to over 468 in 2019. Experts say it’s because of the state’s growing tick population.
“Know where to expect ticks. Ticks live in grassy and brushier wooded areas, and they can even be on animals. So if you’re spending time outside, walking your dog, camping, gardening, or hunting, you could come into contact with these ticks,” said Dr. Joseph Gastaldo, infectious disease specialist with OhioHealth.
Dr. Gastaldo with OhioHealth said the best way to avoid ticks is by wearing additional clothing or putting insect repellant on exposed areas of skin.
If they do happen to bite you, he said it’s important to be aware of the symptoms.
“Symptoms initially of Lyme disease are very vague, they can include a fever, a headache, fatigue, and it has a very characteristic type of skin rash in most people called a bullseye legion,” said Dr. Gastaldo.
However, by removing a tick quickly, Gastaldo said you can avoid having to take antibiotics or visiting the doctor.
“So if you happen to see a tick actually get on you, and it’s not bitten you yet, or if the bite you know is only a short period of time, then you’re not going to get Lyme disease in that circumstance,” said Dr. Gastaldo.
If you happen to get a tick bite, doctors say the best way to get rid of it, is by pinching its body with a pair of tweezers and then removing it.