Epidemic in Loudoun

Lyme Disease is Prevalent, Epidemic in Loudoun County, Virginia

Published December 18, 2008 by:

CC Allison

Rate of Diagnosis Far Exceeds Other Jurisdictions

Loudoun County, one of the fastest growing and wealthiest counties in the United States, is battling the spread of a dangerous disease. Brought on by a large and increasing deer population, Lyme Disease has become a

common diagnosis in doctor's and veterinarian's offices countywide. County officials are scrambling to get the word out to warn the growing population about Lyme Disease and the deer ticks that spread it. In 2008, Loudoun launched a campaign to educate citizens about Lyme Disease and how to prevent it. On August 6th, Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA District 10) held a forum in Ashburn to address the problem with county residents. More than fifty percent of attendees indicated that they both lived in the county and suffered from the disease. According to Leesburg Today, 500 county citizens were positively diagnosed with the disease in 2007, a number which far exceeds surrounding jurisdictions. The number diagnosed in 2007 is several times larger than the reported cases 2005 -- a year in which Loudoun County reported about half of the total cases across the entire state (WTOPnews.com). Yet officials believe that many of Loudoun's citizens have the disease but are not being treated for it. According to the Loudoun Times-Mirror, it's not uncommon for citizens to be diagnosed only after many years have passed, by which time the disease has become debilitating. Often this occurs because symptoms are not easily recognizable, or it may be that the individual infected is unaware of the prevalence of the disease in Loudoun and as such did not seek treatment until symptoms worsened.A citizen of Loudoun myself, I was unaware of the epidemic proportions of the disease here until recently. Growing up in Virginia it was taken for granted that after spending time hiking or walking outdoors, one should check themselves for ticks. However, deer ticks are so pervasive here, that citizens are advised to check themselves after regular outdoor activities such as working in the garden or participating in outdoor sports.

Rate of Diagnosis Far Exceeds Other Jurisdictions

Christy Gates, owner of Lovettsville pet sitting service Christy's Canines, told me that she personally knows ten individuals diagnosed with Lyme Disease. But humans are not the only ones in danger.


As an animal caretaker, she works with veterinarians and pet owners throughout the area, and has learned that a large percentage of the dogs in Loudoun have Lyme Disease. The disease is so prevalent that it can almost be taken for granted that a dog has Lyme Disease if it spends a good portion of the day outdoors in an area that is visited by deer.