There were 382 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in Norfolk County and 366 in Plymouth County in 2007, according the state Department of Public Health. This marks a substantial increase from 2006, when there were 285 cases in Norfolk County and 234 cases in Plymouth County.

Wear white socks and light-colored clothes. Steer clear of high grass and the woods if you can. Check, and check again for ticks.


Lyme disease is on the rise in the greater Brockton area.


The number of cases has more than doubled since 2001, when there were only 94 cases in Norfolk County and 171 in Plymouth County.


In 2007, there were 382 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in Norfolk County and 366 in Plymouth County in 2007, according the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.


This marks a substantial increase from 2006, when there were 285 cases in Norfolk County and 234 cases in Plymouth County.


About two-thirds of the time, a bull’s-eye rash and visible bug bite are giveaways that a person has Lyme disease, but that’s not always the case, as Melissa Kerins discovered.


According to the Department of Public Health, 33 percent of confirmed cases in 2007 did not report having the characteristic rash.


“I personally did not have a rash or a bite that I recall,” said the Whitman resident, who founded the South Shore Lyme Support group. “I just woke up one morning in 2007 with severe flu-like symptoms.”


The majority of cases come in June, July or August. Yet May is Lyme Disease awareness month — so people head into summer knowing what to watch for, said the Connecticut-based Lyme Disease Foundation.


Whether or not they have a rash, those with the disease typically report having a fever, headaches, fatigue and sore muscles and joints in the early stage of the disease, which can last a few days or weeks.


“Some people describe it as the summertime flu,” Kerins said.


Kerins founded South Shore Lyme Support months after contracting the disease and realizing there were no support groups in the area. The group meets from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m. the first Monday of every month in the Whitman Public Library on Webster Street.


“I wanted to surround myself with people who knew how I felt,” she said.


In the later stages, Lyme disease can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system where it can cause arthritis, Bell’s palsy and slowing down of the heart rate. This can be prevented by taking antibiotics soon after diagnosis.


It may seem counterintuitive, but Kerins said people bit by ticks should not burn, squish or put Vaseline on the bugs. Instead, the ticks should be removed with tweezers, stored where they cannot escape (like a jar), and brought to a hospital for Lyme disease testing.


“This disease is definitely not hard to catch and not always easy to cure,” she said.