Lyme disease seen earlier, more frequent this year
The Block Island Health Center has seen as many cases of Lyme Disease so far this year as it saw for all of 2012. The disease has also shown up earlier than in years past, although the cause is not known.
According to nurse practitioner Linda Closter, as of June 15, the center has seen 46 diagnosed cases of Lyme disease and three cases of ehrlichia. There have been no reported cases of babesiosis so far, said Closter.
The cases have been split between year-round residents (23), summer residents (10), summer workers (7) and visitors (6).
“As of July 15, we had 46 cases and the whole of last year we had 46,” said Closter. “And we’ve seen it a lot earlier — as early as the end of May. We’ve also seen more rashes, which is interesting.”
Closter also said the numbers reflect only those people who have been tested positive for a blot, a blood test or a rash. “These are the actual numbers I send to the R. I. Department of Health.” It is required to report all cases of Lyme disease to the state.
Closter said the disease can manifest itself in any number of ways — for instance, you can have the rash but not feel sick, or the rash may not show up for a couple of days. The important thing is to see your health care provider as soon as possible if you experience any of the symptoms.
The other thing Closter said was not to panic. “There’s no reason to come in at midnight,” she said.
For more information, please visit the R. I. Dept. of Health: http://www.health.ri.gov/diseases/lyme/