The Delaware Department of Health warns residents that with spring's arrival and the warmer weather there will be spots, fleas, mosquitoes and increased risks for vector-borne diseases. Whether they live at home or travel in the coming months, DPH wants to remind Delawareans of the risk of these diseases, including the Lyme disease, Zika and West Nile Virus and sharing prevention tips.
"While we want everyone to come and enjoy of the weather, we make use of additional opportunities for family time and exercise, we also hope that every person takes the correct precautions to protect themselves and others, especially children, as well as pets from those diseases that may come with insect bites, "said DPH Director Dr Karyl Rattay.
According to data released by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2016, Delaware reported 545 cases of disease-borne diseases and 35 cases of mosquito-bearing diseases. The CDC-listed Lyme disease as the state's most vulnerable disease accounts for 93 percent (506) of cases. DPH recently completed its 2017 data and reported 608 cases of Lyme disease last year, an increase of more than 100 cases since 2016. CDC believes that the actual number of Lyme disease cases across the country is 10 times higher than reported to doctors or state and county health departments.
Since May is also Lyme Disease Awareness Month, DPH has launched a campaign titled "BLAST Lyme disease", adapted with permission from Ridgefield, Connecticut, BLAST Program. "BLAST" acronym is an easy way to remember five simple steps you can take to protect yourself, family and pets from Lyme disease:
- Bathe or shower within two hours before coming indoors.
- Look for ticks on your body
- Treat your pet.
- Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States with about 30,000 cases reported each year. It is often characterized by an expanding red rash, commonly called "bulls eye rash." Rash can occur anywhere on the body and vary in size and shape. Emissions may be hot when touched, but usually not painful or itchy. Not all patients will develop characteristic rash. Other symptoms include fever and or chills, fatigue, muscle and joint pain and headache. Untreated infections can lead to symptoms including severe joint pain and swelling (usually large joints, especially knees), loss of muscle tone on one or both sides of the face (called "bell's palsy"), palpitation and dizziness, severe headache and stiffness due to meningitis and neurological problems (ie numbness or tingling of the hands or feet, problems with concentration and short-term memory).