The CDC receives reports of more than 300,000 new cases of Lyme Disease. However, this number does not reflect every case of Lyme disease that is diagnosed in the United States every year. Lyme Disease first came on the scene in 1975 when a town in Connecticut called Lyme reported children and adults with arthritic-like symptoms.
By 1977, there were 51 known cases of the disease, and the black-legged tick was blamed for causing it. Unfortunately, this often debilitating disease, and the clicks are expanding beyond Connecticut’s borders.
Let’s take a look at the ten states which have the most cases of Lyme disease. The order is descending from the highest level of Lyme to the lowest instances of Lyme.
While most people would assume that Connecticut would be first because that’s where the first cases of Lyme disease occurred, it’s Maine that takes the top seat.
Of 100,000 residents, there are 87.9 cases of Lyme. It’s now twice as common in Maine as it was just five short years ago. Maine also boasts being the most rural state in the union, which might be why their rates are so high.
There are more places for ticks to hide in nature, and 61.3% of all Maine residents live in rural settings. But Maine is also doing a lot to understand and fight Lyme.
In 2015, the University of Maine approved $9 million for a laboratory to study diseases transmitted by pests. They also publish a report each year along with the state CDC and in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Division of Infectious Disease. The report provides recommendations for lawmakers to create a policy to help fight this disease.
Lyme disease is also high in Vermont. Partly because like Maine, they have a high population living in rural areas, but also because 81% of Vermonters are physically active.
Since most Lyme is contracted in wooded areas and Vermont is known as the Green Mountain State, it makes sense Lyme is on the rise.
Massachusetts has the third-highest incidence of Lyme disease in the country. Their rate is an incidence of 54.1 per 100,000 residents.
Massachusetts rate of incidence peaked in 2009 when there were 61 cases per 100,000 residents. While it’s excellent, those numbers are going down; it’s still a whopping 49% higher than it was in 1999.
It was also concluded in a 2013 report that much more needs to be done to address Lyme in Massachusetts. Antiquated diagnosis methods and insufficient treatments add to the rising costs Lyme carries with it. That includes employee absences and medical expenses.
4. Rhode Island
In 2005, only 3.6 Lyme disease cases were diagnosed for every 100,000 Rhode Island residents. By 2014, that rate was 15 times higher. It has now reached 54.0 per 100,000 residents. This has been the most significant increase this country has seen so far.
In response to the prevalence, Rhode Island built a specialized treatment center called the Lifespan Lyme Disease Center located in Newport. It opened in 2015 to treat ongoing symptoms of Lyme.
Pennsylvania has the dubious distinction of having the highest number of confirmed Lyme disease cases in 2014. Their rate is now 50.6 cases per 100,000 residents. It was also confirmed that the rate of infection had nearly doubled in five years.
In response to the growing rate of infection, the state of Pennsylvania formed a task force. The task force is dedicated to the education, awareness, prevention, and surveillance of Lyme. They also submit recommendations committed to raising public awareness.
Connecticut is where Lyme disease first got its start. However, Connecticut doesn’t have as many people living in rural areas as states like Vermont and Maine do. Only about 12% of Connecticut’s population lives in rural areas.
Why Lyme is still so prevalent is because the adults in Connecticut are relatively active. 78.2% of adults are physically active, the 18th highest in the country. Since 94.4% of all residents have access to areas for physical activity, including heavily wooded parks, it brings up the rates of Lyme.
7. New Hampshire
New Hampshire has something to celebrate when it comes to Lyme disease. Thanks to weather conditions and awareness, reports of Lyme are now down. In 2014, there were 46.9 cases per 100,000 residents. Just five years prior, they were higher by nearly a quarter.
As is typical with states in New England, residents in New Hampshire tend to live in more rural areas. About 39.7% of their population does. 79.2% manage to keep fairly active as well. Deer ticks are commonly found in wooded, rural areas.
Thankfully, Delaware residents have recently seen a drop in the cases of Lyme disease. But before that, it was more common in Delaware than any other state for five of the previous ten years.
In 2014, Delaware residents came in at 36.4 per 100,000 people, which was a whopping 50% decline since 2010. That’s mostly due to the proactive measures were taken by their state’s lawmakers.
The state legislature was recently passed based on recommendations from the Lyme Disease Prevention Task Force. The two bills were passed to reduce the number of Lyme-carrying ticks in the state and to increase education for medical professionals within Delaware.
9. New Jersey
While only 5.3% of New Jersey residents live in rural areas, this state still has a significant Lyme disease problem to tackle. Their rate of incidence is 29.0 per 100,000 residents.
The reason they are still at risk is mainly due to the fact that 95% of their population has easy access to areas used for physical activity. That includes suburban backyards, parks, and even public spaces.
Luckily, the rate of growth seems to have peaked in 2008. Cases of Lyme are now beginning to reduce.
Yes, states in the northeast have the highest rates of Lyme anywhere in the country. But that doesn’t mean Lyme hasn’t made its way across the country.
Wisconsin has a rate of 17.2 per 100,000 residents. It’s the worst state in the Midwest where Lyme is concerned. It’s also more than double when compared to the entire country.
The rate of Lyme cases increases in the summer months—no surprise, considering their cold, snowy winters. In 2014, the rates showed they were lower than just a decade ago. Unfortunately, a new bill designed to set standards for diagnosing and treating Lyme did not pass in their state senate.
Suffering from Lyme is no joke. The symptoms are sometimes painful and often debilitating. Diagnosis is often hard to make.
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