Three cases of Lyme Disease confirmed
The Washington County Public Health Department received three confirmed cases of Lyme disease in the county.
This seemed to be more than usual, Washington County Public Health Nurse Lynn Fisher said.
“From Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. to Wednesday at 10 a.m. [was when the three reports of Lyme disease came to the Washington County Public Health Department],” Fisher said. “It was two days, but really it was just 24 hours. To have three cases that fast—because we usually will have one to four cases over the entire year—so that seemed kind of remarkable.”
There could be more cases reported because June and July is a peak time for Lyme disease cases, Fisher said.
“I did learn that one of the doctors’ offices in town called to let me know about another Lyme disease [case] but the person didn’t live in our county,” she said, “so I really didn’t work with that one, and that was in that same week.”
Lyme disease is caused by a bite from a deer tick and could go unnoticed for a couple of days, Fisher said.
“It’s very tiny,” Fisher said. “The Iowa Department of Public Health says to look for new freckles—that’s how small it is—when you’re looking at your skin, inspecting your skin, to look for freckles.”
Deer ticks can embed themselves in a person’s skin, Fisher said. The typical areas they like to bite include the thighs and legs, arms and underarms, or scalp.
If someone finds a tick it’s important they don’t remove it with their bare hands, Fisher said.
“The Iowa Department of Public Health instructions of the proper way to remove a tick is still with the tweezers,” she said.
Other suggestions Fisher had for tick removal included washing your hands immediately after the tick has been removed, and putting some antibiotic ointment on the area where the tick was.
There are some symptoms a person may experience after being bitten by a deer tick with Lyme disease. They include fever, headache, fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain, a stiff neck, and a red rash that can look like a “bull’s-eye,” according to a press release from the Washington County Public Health Department.
If the rash appears, Fisher said it is important for the person to get tested at a doctor’s office. A blood sample is taken and results will usually come back within three to four days.
Once the test comes back, if it is positive, the Iowa Department of Public Health is notified, and then the Washington County Public Health Department is notified, Fisher said. She then follows up with a phone interview with the patient.
“We call people with interviews to find out where they’ve been,” Fisher said, “where they’ve been as far as brushy, grassy areas; and people [with confirmed cases of Lyme disease] were all over the county, so I think it might be difficult for the state department of public health to narrow down.”
Fisher also asks what symptoms the patient is having so the Iowa Department of Public Health can gather a database about Lyme disease. This also helps public health departments in the state learn more about the disease itself, Fisher said.