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Number of Lyme disease cases growing

Posted at 6:37 PM, Mar 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-09 18:37:53-05

An excursion through the woods in Ithaca, turned into an itchy nightmare for Sherry Burns, after finding a tick inside her arm two years ago.

"At one point I was like, 'why is that itching so badly?' and I pulled my sleeve up and there was a tick on there," said Burns.

She remembers needing tweezers to get it out.

"It was really scary," said Burns. "Having that thing, you know, engorged in your arm."

A surprise for Sherry, who was covered up, wearing a jacket while hiking in the woods. But the scare just didn't stop there. The next day, her husband found one on his back.

"His was in pretty far so I had to dig it out," said Burns. "I used tweezers, then I had a needle."

So they rushed to immediate care to get preventative antibiotics. Only after finding a third tick on her dog, Mr. Pickles. But thankfully, it turns out they were not one of the 3,252 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in New York State in 2015. A jump from the 2,853 cases reported the year before.

"The best thing you could do is follow up with your doctor," said Burns.

Veterinarians like the one Mr. Pickles went to see, say it's important to check if your dog gets symptoms of Lyme disease.

"Fortunately only about 5% of the dogs will come down with clinical Lyme disease, which is manifest by swollen joints, fever, not eating," said Dr. James Albert, a vet for City Creatures Animal Hospital. 

To make pets feel better, Dr. Albert says dogs could get four weeks of treatment with strong antibiotics.

"It's not fatal but it certainly doesn't carry the risk factors or morbidity as it does with people, because when people get Lyme disease that's almost like having MS It's very debilitating," said Dr. Albert.