HEALTH

Loudoun County Lyme disease plan eyed by county board

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The mild winter that the greater D.C. metro area experienced this year has had one unintended and unwanted side effect - an increase in ticks.

Deer ticks are the carriers of Lyme disease. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

That increase in ticks can lead to an increase in Lyme disease, and it's something that Loudoun County officials are trying to get ahead of before it strikes.

To combat the potential problem, the county's Board of Supervisors is pushing an aggressive anti-tick campaign. It will involve the spraying of six county parks, community surveys, classroom education and special deer feeders.

Loudoun family suffers

It's too little, too late for the Farris family of Purcellville, who all know first-hand what Lyme disease can do.

More than two years ago, Vickie Farris started having intense nerve pain. Now, she's forced to take a multitude of medications to keep it in check.

Her husband, Mike, has it too. So does their sons Joe and Michael.

"I had a bunch of joint pain and surgery," Joe said. Mike reports that he has suffered from joint pain and skin issues as well.

It's not uncommon in the Commonwealth of Virginia, either. The disease, which is carried by deer ticks, has been spreading at an alarming rate.

County has highest rate

Loudoun, by far, has been impacted the most amongst counties in Virginia with 261 reported cases in 2011. However, officials say that up to 90 percent of Lyme cases go unreported.

Lyme disease, a bacterial infection which is spread through the bite of ticks, presents with symptoms such as itchiness, body aches, fevers and muscle pain, among others. At its more serious stages, though, Lyme can cause paralysis, heart problems and numbness.

For the Farris family, Lyme has cut back on the things they love, such as gardening, hitting golf balls or walk in their fields.

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