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Ohio reports record number of Lyme disease cases in 2021, leaders issue warning for 2022

Posted at 4:37 PM, Mar 22, 2022

DOVER, Ohio — With spring here and the weather getting warmer, health leaders told News 5 they’re keeping a close watch on Lyme disease cases after a record number of cases in 2021.

A quick glance at the Ohio Department of Healthwebsite shows that reports of Lyme disease used to be “an uncommon occurrence in Ohio,” but have since grown substantially over the past several years, with confirmed cases of Lyme disease going from about 67 cases in 2012 to 582 cases in 2021.

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Data shows the number of confirmed lyme disease cases through the years.

In Tuscarawas County, communicable disease nurse Chelsea Martin told News 5 their number of suspected, probable and confirmed Lyme disease cases doubled from 64 cases in 2020 to 125 cases in 2021 and that Tuscarawas County Public Health officials still believe that number is being under-reported.

“It’s definitely an issue in the summer months,” she said. “It is easily treatable; the big thing with Lyme disease has to be caught early and appropriate antibiotics need to be started.”

Lyme disease is transmitted to humans through bites from black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks, which carry the disease.

In addition to a "bull’s eye rash," other symptoms doctors say those infected with Lyme disease can encounter include headache, fever, chills, muscle and joint pain, and feeling tired.

It’s a problem Lisa Plott deals with every day. Plott first noticed symptoms of Lyme disease more than 20 years ago after she found a tick hiding on the top of her head.

She told News 5 it took six years for her to be properly diagnosed.

“I never know what one day is going to be from the next,” Plott said. “I want them to be careful because my story can become theirs. I just want people to watch and be vigilant because they are sneaky. it fell out of a tree onto my head.”

As we head into the season of outdoor adventures, Martin suggests people should take some preventative steps such as wearing long clothing, wearing DEET, and checking your body anytime you’re coming in from outside.

“It takes 36-48 hours for the tick to transmit disease so if they catch it early, it doesn't have time to transmit the disease,” she said.