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Lyme disease in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts

Lyme disease is caused by bacteria that are transmitted to humans through the bite of infected ticks. Lyme disease is currently the most common vector-borne disease in the United States, with over 23.5 thousand new cases in 2018. Initial symptoms of Lyme disease are similar to that of the flu, making it difficult to diagnose, and include fever, headache, fatigue, and body aches. Lyme disease can be treated and cured with antibiotics if it is diagnosed early enough, but, if left untreated, symptoms can become more severe and can affect the heart, joints, brain and spinal cord. In 2017, 41 percent of surveyed adults in the U.S. stated they were concerned about a family member or themselves catching Lyme disease.

As Lyme disease is passed onto humans through ticks, there are large regional differences in Lyme disease incidence rates depending on the pervasiveness of ticks. States in the northeast of the United States experience the highest incidence rates of Lyme disease because these areas are host to the largest number of infected ticks. In 2018, the states with the highest incidence rates of Lyme disease were Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. Similarly, there are seasonal differences in Lyme disease cases. Unsurprisingly, the months around when ticks are most active are the ones in which the highest number of new Lyme disease cases occur, with June and July accounting for the largest portion of new cases.

In 2017, it was found that only 76 percent of those aged 18 to 34 years knew that Lyme disease was transmitted through the bite of a tick and 22 percent thought the disease could be transmitted through infected blood. Preventing Lyme disease rests on avoiding tick bites, with the most common preventative measures including wearing clothing to cover ankles, using insect repellant, and avoiding areas with deer. Lyme disease funding from the National Institutes for Health (NIH) has increased in recent years and was around 31 million dollars in 2019, but was expcted to drop to 27 million dollars in 2020.


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