For local residents affected by Lyme disease, the support group BucksCo. Lyme meets at the Middletown municipal building at 4 p.m. on the third Sunday of the month, unless otherwise noted.
BucksCo. Lyme was formed in 2008 by Evelyn Throne and Karen Meyers and is a region of the PA Lyme Disease Resource Network, a statewide, nonprofit organization committed to education, patient advocacy, support and prevention of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.
“May is Lyme disease awareness month and BucksCo. Lyme wants to help everyone learn more about tick-borne illnesses,” says Throne. “Pennsylvania is the number one state in reported cases of Lyme.” Throne says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that Lyme disease is actually 10 times more common than reported, which translates to more than 120,000 cases in 2016 in Pennsylvania alone.
“Although spring and summer are the riskiest times for tick exposure,” she says, “ticks are active anytime they aren’t frozen solid. This year promises to be a bad one.”
Early symptoms can be flu-like and include muscle or joint pain, headache, fever, stiff neck, swollen glands and fatigue. Chronic symptoms can include exhaustion, brain fog, light and sound sensitivity, personality changes, migrating joint pain, Bell’s palsy, night sweats, heart problems, low temperature and recurring infections.
In addition to thorough tick checks, Throne’s advice for protecting against tick-borne illness includes avoiding brushy areas by staying in the middle of trails, spraying clothes and shoes with Permethrin or buying pre-treated clothing, using a tick repellent such as Repel with lemon eucalyptus and putting clothes in the dryer for 20 minutes and showering within two hours of exposure.