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Tick travails

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I embrace the belief that every life form exists for a reason, even if I’m unable to discern what that is. When it comes to ticks, however (and probably also mosquitos), it is challenging to uphold this belief. And so, since I and my canine companions have been beset with both American dog ticks and blacklegged ticks (also called deer ticks) over the past several weeks, it’s timely to share some current tick-related information here.

Residents of Pennsylvania bitten by ticks can now submit them to the Pennsylvania Tick Research Lab (www.ticklab.org) at East Stroudsburg University for free basic testing for Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Of the 3,991 ticks tested so far, 1,370 were infected with one of these diseases, with the remaining 2,621 ticks uninfected. Tiny blacklegged ticks (deer ticks), like this one on my shoe, are the primary vectors for transmission of Lyme disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pennsylvania has the dubious distinction of reporting the highest number of total Lyme disease cases in the U.S. since 2000. This disease is the result of tick-borne pathogens transmitted most frequently by Ixodes scapularis, the blacklegged tick. This species was almost non-existent in the 1960s, but is now the state’s most dominant tick species, as recently reported by Penn State University scientists.

Locally, members of the Pike County Commissioner’s Task Force on Tick-Borne Disease (TBD) reached out to Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers (WMCHC) in November 2018 for assistance in diagnosing as well as providing treatment and management advice for those experiencing a TBD.

The result was the launch of a Tick-Borne Disease Wellness Center overseen by Harriet Loizeaux, a “Lyme-literate” healthcare provider who formerly served as the Supervisor of Communicable Diseases for the New York State Department of Health. Loizeaux has extensive experience in both evidence-based research and treatment modalities specific to TBD.

The TBD Wellness Center is located within the Pike Family Health Center at 750 Route 739 in Lords Valley, PA. Those who suspect they have Lyme disease can be seen for diagnostic testing and verification of a TBD, or advice for management of current symptoms. Call 570/775-7100 for more information.
 

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