The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Montour County

July 8, 2014

1 or 2 Lyme cases daily at Geisinger Medical Center

— DANVILLE — After a long, cold winter, ticks are out in force again and parents are encouraged to check children for the tiny parasites after they come in from playing.

“We see virtually one or two kids every day with Lyme Disease” throughout the year, said Michael Ryan, chairman of Geisinger Medical Center’s Janet Weis Children’s Hospital.

Normally, Ryan sees about 100 to 200 children each year for tick-related illnesses. Last year was at least twice that many and 2014 is “on target for another better than average year.”

Bob Stoudt, director of the Montour Area Recreation Commission, has also noticed more ticks than usual this summer.

“I had hoped with the rough winter we’ve had that it wouldn’t be as much of an issue. My experience so far is that it wouldn’t be the case,” he said. “It’s going to be a rough year for us, I believe,” though probably not much worse than average.

Stoudt recommends adults and children alike walking around in tall grass wear clothing that covers their skin, especially their legs.

“One of the key things is to wear long pants, even though it can be uncomfortable,” he said. He also suggested people tuck the pants legs into their socks to cover even more of the skin.

If children have been outside, Ryan says parents should check for ticks, specifically along their ears, armpits and groin areas. The insects can sometimes be as small as the dot of a pen, so careful inspection is necessary, Ryan said.

“Try not to hurt the child getting the tick out,” he said. “The biggest thing we see is parents damaging children trying to get the tick out and people overreacting to tick bites.”

Parents don’t need to panic — just because they see a tick is not a cause for an emergency room visit, Ryan said.

Stoudt added that gentle pressure is more effective at removing ticks than brute force.

“The best bet is to try to pull them gently and carefully out,” he said. “If you can’t do it yourself, seek medical help.”

The worst thing that can happen is for part of the tick to break off and become lodged under the skin, as that can also lead to Lyme disease, he said. Folk remedies such as using nail polish or a match to remove a tick, are ineffective, Stoudt added.

After a tick is removed, the area should be checked for a bulls-eye rash, which is an indication of Lyme disease, Ryan said. Other signs can include fever, aches, pains, fatigue and headaches. Ryan wanted to emphasize, however, that while tick bites are common, Lyme disease is not.

“There’s 83-85 cases of tick bites for every case of Lyme disease,” he said.

It’s also important for parents to know that all Lyme disease in children is treatable.

“All children recover from Lyme disease” with the proper medication, he said.

Email comments to rstoneback@thedanvillenews.com.

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