A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sheds light on the expansion of Lyme disease cases in the United States.
The report suggests that the infectious disease — which was once thought to be confined to the Northeast of the U.S. — has established a much larger foothold in recent years.
The report found more than a quarter million likely cases of Lyme disease, and most states with high incidence rates were in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, and upper Midwest regions — with relatively stable numbers. However, the report also warns that neighboring states are seeing increased reports.
“As Lyme disease emerges in neighboring states [Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia], clinical suspicion of Lyme disease in a patient should be based on local experience rather than incidence cutoffs used for surveillance purposes,” the report says, in light of the trend.
Lyme disease is a tick-borne infection, and typical symptoms after a bite from an infected tick can include fever, chills, fatigue and muscle aches. Others can experience a rash or Bell’s palsy.
Patients who catch and treat the disease early can typically expect to fully recover, but for those who don’t — symptoms can spread and worsen, impacting the joints, the heart and even the nervous system.
The culprit is the expansion of the black-legged tick, often also known as a deer or bear tick, which has been spotted as far north as Canada and as far south as Florida in the eastern part of North America, according to the CDC.