SAN JOSE, Calif., Aug. 13, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors unanimously declared Lyme Disease Awareness in the County. The proposal, put forward by Supervisor Dave Cortese, brings a heightened and renewed focus on a growing public health crisis in the County.

On May 13, the Santa Clara County also promoted National Lyme Disease Awareness Month and the Center for Disease Control’s “Tick Lunch and Learn Series” on the County’s social media presence.

“With our belief that being outside is safer than being inside in preventing COVID-19 transmissions, it is important that we call attention to Lyme Disease, which is also a significant public health threat,” said Supervisor Dave Cortese. “Thank you to the Bay Area Lyme Foundation for bringing awareness to this tick-borne disease and the precautions we can take to prevent it.”

Lyme Disease and its co-infections represent the fastest-growing vector-borne disease in the country. Representing a significant public health threat, Lyme is an infectious disease transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected blacklegged tick, found in 56 out of 58 counties in California—or 97 percent. Early detection is key for a quick recovery, and that is where awareness can be life-altering.

Raeena Lari, a San Jose resident, welcomed the awareness initiative by Supervisor Dave Cortese. “My family was exposed at a Santa Clara County park,” Lari said.  “The debilitating illness took us to 26 different doctors and specialists over an entire year, before a diagnosis was eventually made because of the widespread and mistaken notion that Lyme does not exist in California.”

Linda Giampa, executive director of the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, also reiterated the need for awareness, noting that “Santa Clara’s beautiful weather and gorgeous terrain give residents many reasons to spend time outdoors. Yet, many people are unaware of the dangers of tick exposure, and the need for tick checks when returning from outdoor activities. Awareness is key to preventing Lyme disease, as well as preventing it from progressing to advanced stages that can be incredibly disabling.”

Research funded by Bay Area Lyme Foundation studied ticks in a dozen open space preserves in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties and found ticks carrying the bacteria that cause Lyme Disease in all twelve locations.

The growing spread of Lyme disease has been linked to both climate change and land use change, as warmer temperatures and habitat destruction have pushed ticks further into densely populated areas.

In addition, COVID-19 and Lyme have many overlapping symptoms, and Lyme as a diagnosis may be overlooked if there is continued lack of awareness.

The California Department of Health recommends the following precautions for protection:

  • Use an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered repellent to keep ticks off your skin and clothing. Use tick repellent with at least 20% DEET as an active ingredient, which is safe when used as directed and is proven to prevent tick bites.
  • Wear clothing treated with 0.5% permethrin, which is an active ingredient designed to kill ticks. (Permethrin should never be applied to skin.)
  • While walking outside in areas where ticks live, stay in the middle of trails, and avoid grassy areas, leaf litter, contact with rocks, logs, tree trunks, and fallen branches or tree limbs in forests. Ticks are often hiding in these areas, waiting to bite and feed on an animal or person.
  • After returning indoors from an area with ticks, thoroughly check yourself and others (including pets) for ticks during and up to three days after being outside in areas with ticks.
  • Shower as soon as you can after leaving areas with ticks.
  • Place any clothing you were wearing while in areas with ticks in a hot dryer for 10 minutes to kill ticks crawling on clothing.

For additional information on Lyme Disease, click here.

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