WXXI AM News

lyme disease

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The number of new Lyme disease cases in the Finger Lakes has leveled off -- at least for now.

After shooting up more than 1,800% in the last decade, new cases have settled around a number that disease experts called a “new normal."

In 2008, 20 new cases of Lyme disease were documented in the Finger Lakes. In the most recent data, from 2018, 385 cases were reported. A spokesperson for the state health department said last year’s data is still provisional, but it’s not expected to change significantly when the numbers are finalized later this month.

Two years ago, after a routine blood test, Maryann Fuhrmann's 9-year-old Maltese mix, Bella, was diagnosed with Lyme disease.

"I see tons of ticks on her all the time, but (her) being white," she said, "they're easy to spot, and I am fanatical about checking her over every time I come in the house, so I don't know how it got by, but I really feel like I let her down."

Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

As tick season arrives in the Finger Lakes, doctors at Rochester Regional Health have encouraged people who get bitten to have the bugs removed by a professional.

 Scott Allan, the medical director at Rochester Regional’s immediate care facilities, said he and his colleagues are starting to see tick bites often.

“As the weather gets nicer, more people are going outside, going into the woods, going hiking, getting exposure to ticks,” Allan said. “Definitely getting more common.”

Scott Bauer / USDA

The number of Lyme disease cases diagnosed in the Finger Lakes region jumped sharply last year, according to the most recent data from the state health department.

The data, while still preliminary, is not expected to change before it’s finalized next month. It shows Lyme disease cases increased almost 600 percent in the health department’s Finger Lakes region, from 62 in 2012 to 365 in 2017.

Experts say Lyme disease is spreading, and as we’ve learned, so has to the controversy surrounding it. Mainstream medicine rejects the idea of chronic Lyme disease, and some doctors who speak out against it are harassed or even threatened. But patients who say they have chronic Lyme disease emphasize the treatment they’ve received from “Lyme literate” doctors helps.

So what does the science say? And how can humans protect themselves and their pets from Lyme disease? Our panel discusses it. Our guests:

  • Dr. Geoffrey Weinberg, M.D., professor of pediatrics and infectious diseases at URMC
  • Dr. Jackie Walker, DVM, veterinarian and Churchville Veterinary Hospital
  • Marcie Kreydt, Lyme disease patient, and Southern Tier regional director for Camp Good Days in Special Times

Scott Bauer / USDA

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ New York senators are proposing several measures to deal with tick-borne Lyme disease that appears to be spreading across the state. 

The task force report cites 462 cases reported through the first week of June in New York and a recent federal estimate of 300,000 new cases annually with only a fraction actually reported. 

The bacterial infection, usually treated with antibiotics, is spread through the bite of infected ticks that are often carried by mice or deer.