In response to a recent increase in the number of reported cases, the Allegheny County Health Department is offering advice on how to reduce the risk of Lyme disease, which can be contracted in wooded areas as well as yards and neighborhoods with low bushes or tall grass, from which ticks that spread the disease can most easily attach to a person.
In 2013, 145 cases of Lyme disease were reported in county residents, up sharply from several years ago. From 2004 through 2008, the number of cases fluctuated between 16 and 35 per year.
Lyme disease, transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected tick, may be acquired not only on trips outside the area but also increasingly so locally, because the tick that transmits Lyme disease, Ixodes scapularis, also known as the deer tick, is the most commonly found tick on people and pets in Allegheny County.
In 2013, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection tested 56 deer ticks found in Allegheny County for Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, and found that 19 or 34% of the ticks were infected.