Ohio health officials are urging people to be more aware of the threat of tick-carried Lyme disease.
The Columbus Dispatch reported that federal funding cuts resulted in an end to a statewide program on tick and mosquito surveillance. But the Ohio Department of Health says it will help guide local health departments on surveillance efforts.
The state department has been reaching out to the public in a variety of ways, including at the Ohio State Fair, through legislators, and with education of health care workers, spokeswoman Tessie Pollock said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed recently that incidence of Lyme disease is much higher than previously estimated, with one expert calling it a “tremendous public health problem.”
There were 59 known cases in Ohio last year, but it’s been spreading.
“We’ve been watching the emergence from two counties to 26 counties to now maybe 56 counties that may have the tick,” said Glen Needham, a retired entomology professor from Ohio State University. He said most local health departments don’t have the resources to increase focus on ticks.
Early identification and treatment with antibiotics can help when the problem is still localized.