VALPARAISO | The Porter County Health Department is cautioning area residents to protect themselves from ticks as they spend time outside this summer.
"Porter County sees cases of Lyme disease every year and there is concern the numbers may increase this year. We want our citizens and healthcare providers to be aware of this disease and to take precautions," said Dr. Maria Stamp, health officer for Porter County.
Porter County Health Department officials reported last week that there have been 12 cases of Lyme Disease confirmed or suspected so far this year and currently have six open cases under investigation.
In 2012 there were a total of 15 cases of Lyme Disease reported and confirmed in Porter county. In 2011 there were 13 cases; in 2010, nine cases and in 2009, 11 cases.
District One (which includes Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Jasper and Newton counties) had 34 of the the state's 61 total cases in 2012.
The type of tick that causes Lyme disease is a black-legged tick, often found in grassy or wooded areas.
"We have identified the wooded areas around Lake Michigan to have higher number of cases of Lyme disease, although we have had cases from all over Porter County," said Dr. Stamp.
Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses can all be successfully treated with antibiotics and prompt diagnosis can prevent complications.
Lyme disease is often associated with a slowly expanding blotchy red rash which is usually fainter at the center than the edge. Other symptoms may include joint pain, fever, headache, muscle aches and extreme fatigue.
If a person does become ill after finding an attached tick, they should see a medical provider.