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State reports Lyme disease cases up

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has issued a warning about the growing amount of Lyme disease cases being reported in the area.

The number of reported cases are on the rise in the eastern two-thirds of Becker County, southern Clearwater and Beltrami counties and all of Hubbard County, MDH reported Monday.

However, Ed Novak, physicians assistant at Dakota Clinic in Park Rapids, said Lyme disease is not as prevalent as people might think.

Lyme disease was discovered in Lyme, CT in the late 1970s and is one of several tick-borne diseases within the state. If left undiagnosed Lyme disease can cause arthritis, problems with the nervous system and persistent fatigue.

In 2005, the MDH reported 918 Lyme disease cases statewide.

The disease is transmitted when an infected deer tick bites a human or pet. The tick is smaller and darker in color than the common wood tick and must be attached for 24 to 48 hours to transmit the bacteria.

Common signs of the disease include a rash that resembles a bulls-eye, often appearing on the thighs, groin, trunk, armpits and on children's faces.

According to the MDH, not everyone with the disease will get a rash, but there are other symptoms such as fever, chills, fatigue, headache, muscle and joint pain.

If a person suspects they contracted the disease, they should contact a doctor for further examination.

The MDH says early recognition of Lyme disease is important for treatment.

Noval said the disease is treated with a capsule over a few weeks with the antibiotics: doxycycline, amoxicillin or cefuroxime axetil.

The Center for Disease Control Website states, "Patients treated with antibiotics in the early stages of the infection usually recover rapidly and completely."

The longer the disease goes unchecked, the more difficult it can be to treat.

Human anaplasmosis is less common than Lyme disease, but also transmitted by the deer tick.

The symptoms of anaplasmosis include a fever over 102 degrees, severe headache, muscle aches, chills and shaking.

Anaplasmosis is also treated with antibiotics.

The MDH suggests lowering the risk of contracting the disease by using insect repellants with DEET-based products.

Permethrin products are also recommended for people spending an extended period of time in brushy, wooded areas where the ticks are most prevalent from mid-May through July.

The MDH also suggests wearing proper clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants, tucking pants into the socks and checking frequently by the hairline, waist line, arm pits, behind the ears and knees.

The MDH warns against folk remedies such as Vaseline, nail polish remover or burning matches to remove ticks. They recommend, "grasping the tick close to the skin, if possible with a tweezers, pulling the tick outward slowly, gently and steadily being careful not to squeeze the tick. Once the tick is removed, place antiseptic on the bite."

Pets are also susceptible to the disease. A vaccine to prevent Lyme disease is available for dogs and owners can find out if their dog is infected before leaving the clinic. The standard test also checks for the heartworm disease in canines.

The vaccine won't prevent your pet from bringing the ticks into the home and a complete check of your pet is recommended before allowing them inside.