Lyme Lives Here

Doctors and lawmakers alike take a stand against this misunderstood disease permeating Southeastern Pennsylvania.

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Pennsylvania consistently ranks among the top states for the number of new Lyme cases each year. According to the latest available statistics, Pennsylvania 5,722 new cases topped the list in 2009. Chester and Montgomery are among the counties with the highest incidence rates.

And that’s only reported cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that there could be 50,000 or more undiagnosed or unreported cases statewide. Likewise, patients and Lyme activists say the Infectious Diseases Society of America guidelines are lacking when it comes to the diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

But thanks to groups like the Lyme Disease Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania, people are more “Lyme aware.” The LDA meets every third Wednesday at Kennett Friends Meeting in Kennett Square. In its 2004 survey of 1,007 Pocopson Township residents, 50 percent said their household had one or more cases of Lyme.

Diminutive vampires, ticks are most active from May to July, then again in October. The nymphs—the middle of three stages of a tick’s life cycle—transmit the most disease; they’ve had their first blood meal and are small enough that they’re hard to detect. A tick’s existence depends on secretly latching on.

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