Check For Ticks, There's A Lyme Disease Spike in NJ

May 21, 2018

New Jersey State Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal says figures from last year show the highest number of reported Lyme Disease cases in nearly two decades.
Credit Ang Santos / WBGO

New Jersey State Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal says check for ticks after being out in wooded areas.  Tick-borne illness is on the rise. 

“Ticks that transmit Lyme disease are active during the spring, summer, and the fall.  But May, June, and July are the peak seasons, the peak months rather for transmission of tick-borne illness,” said Elnahal.  “5,000 cases of Lyme disease were diagnosed in New Jersey last year.  The highest total since the year 2000.  Morris and Hunterdon County top the list in terms of the number of cases.”

Only Pennsylvania reported more Lyme disease cases last year than New Jersey.  US Senator Bob Menendez is calling for additional federal funding for research.

“We need to get a better understanding of Lyme disease.  We need more effective ways to test for Lyme disease.  Above all we need more aggressive strategies to prevent the spread of tick-borne infections,” Menendez said.

Lyme disease can be effectively treated if it’s detected early.  Dr. John Halperin with the Department of Neurosciences at Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ says it can be avoided even if the tick has already attached.

“The way the tick infects us is by staying attached to us for several days and in the course of doing that injecting the organisms into us.  In reality the tick needs to be attached for 24 to 48 hours before you’re at serious risk of Lyme disease,” Halperin said.

Experts attribute the growing number of Lyme disease cases to longer summer seasons.