Recent studies conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found Pennsylvania and New Jersey counties are leading the nation for cases of Lyme disease in the United States.
The blacklegged tick, also known as the deer tick, has been the cause of rising Lyme disease cases throughout the Philadelphia area in recent years, state and federal agencies found.
The two states with the two highest number of reported cases are Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Pennsylvania's more than 12,000 cases in 2016, the most recent year available through the CDC, accounted for nearly 38 percent of the entire country's total. New Jersey had more than 3,800 cases.
Pennsylvania's outsize and dangerous predicament has steadily gotten worse since 2000.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the number of cases per 100,000 people quadrupled between 2000 and 2016.
Deer ticks get the disease from rodents, mostly the white-footed mouse, and then use the deer to feed, mate and reproduce. The large deer population in Pennsylvania makes the perfect conditions for Lyme disease to travel.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the bacteria is transmitted to humans through the bite of the infected ticks, with symptoms including fever, headache, fatigue, and a skin rash. “Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics.”
The following counties had the most reported and confirmed cases of Lyme disease in 2016.
5. Berks County
Total cases since 2000: 3,643
2016 cases: 463
4. York County
Total cases since 2000: 5,145
2016 cases: 349
3. Montgomery County
Total cases since 2000: 7,393
2016 cases: 606
2. Bucks County
Total cases since 2000: 8,215
2016 cases: 500
1. Chester County
Total cases since 2000: 10,682
2016 cases: 371
There are ways to protect your body from tick bites and prevent the spread of Lyme disease. The CDC recommends using insect repellent, checking for ticks often, applying pesticides, and reducing tick habitat. Removing leaf litter and clearing tall grasses are both ways to lower the risk of ticks in your yard.