New information released in August 2013 by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention estimated that around 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease every year. According to the CDC website, Lyme disease “is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks.” Previous estimates had projected the number of annual U.S. cases around 30,000, a sign that Lyme disease is much more prevalent across the nation then previously thought. When infected Blacklegged ticks (also known as deer ticks or bear ticks) latch on to a human for over 36 hours they can transport Lyme disease to a person.
In a press release issued by the CDC, Lyle R. Petersen, director of CDC’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases stressed the seriousness of this issue, “We need to move to a broader approach to tick reduction, involving entire communities, to combat this public health problem.” The CDC’s new estimate was complied from data resulting from 3 separate studies. While the vast majority of the cases are confined to 13 U.S. states, the CDC’s new findings are a clear indication that Lyme disease is a serious health issue.
Lyme Disease 101
- The U.S. states where 96% of Lyme disease cases are reported include: Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Connecticut, New Jersey, Vermont, and Virginia.
- Common symptoms include headache, fatigue, fever and occasionally a bull’s-eye shaped rash.
- In cases where Lyme disease has been left untreated, patients have developed arthritis and Bell’s palsy (loss of muscle tone on the side of the face).
- In the early stages of Lyme disease, patients are treated with antibiotics and typically reach a full recovery quickly. The CDC estimates that between 10-20% experience Post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome.
- In 2011, Lyme disease was the 6th most Nationally Notifiable Disease despite being mostly confined to the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest states.
- In 2011, Pennsylvania reported the most confirmed Lyme disease cases in the United States.
Tick Bite Prevention Tips
- When outside for an extended period of time, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, boots or sturdy shoes.
- Apply insect repellent containing 10 percent to 30 percent DEET primarily to clothes. Apply sparingly to exposed skin (do not spray directly to the face; spray the insect repellent onto hands and then apply to face. Avoid sensitive areas like the eyes, mouth and nasal membranes).
- Take a shower or bath promptly upon returning indoors as to wash off any ticks that attached themselves to you while outdoors.
- Check yourself, children and other family members daily for ticks. If your pets spend time outdoors, regularly check them for ticks, too. Visit the CDC website for instructions on how to properly remove ticks.
- Make sure the property around your home is unattractive to ticks. Keep lawn mowed and foliage trimmed.
Read why ticks are “A Tiny But Dangerous Pest” & learn how to steer clear of Lyme disease.
Have you had any run-ins with ticks? Share below in the comments!