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May Is Lyme Disease Awareness Month

By Jim Melwert

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- As the weather warms up – and hopefully dries out – we'll all spend more time outdoors, that has medical officials turning their attention to raise awareness of Lyme Disease.

May is Lyme Disease awareness month, proclaiming their support for efforts to try to prevent Lyme, Chester County commissioner Michelle Kichline says seven years ago, when her son got sick, it took five months and several doctors to figure out what was wrong.

"From Penn to DuPont to everywhere trying to figure out what was wrong with him, and all it was – well, not all – but it was Lyme's Disease," says Kichline.

Doug Fearn with the Lyme Disease Association of Southeastern PA spoke on how crucial awareness of tick borne illnesses is.

He says Pennsylvania is always the top state in the country for cases of Lyme Disease.

"We have almost a third of the cases of Lyme Disease right here in Pennsylvania. And Chester County is always the number one county in Pennsylvania for the incidents of Lyme Disease," Fearn said.

But he says most cases go unreported, as the tests are wrong about half the time, and a positive test won't come back in the first 6-8 weeks:

"Doctors need to base their diagnosis on clinical symptoms, not on the test results," said Fearn.

He adds they keep finding new diseases carried by ticks, including the rare but often-fatal Powassen Fever, a viral infection with no cure.

"Even those people that survive it, most end up with disabling permanent neurological damage," Fearn said.

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