It's Tick Time: Prevent Lyme Disease
U.S. Has About 20,000 Cases of Lyme Disease Per Year, Twice as Many as in 1991
WebMD News Archive
June 14, 2007 -- The CDC today announced that reported cases of Lyme disease
have more than doubled since 1991.
People can get Lyme disease if they're bitten by an infected blacklegged
tick (also known as deer tick). Spring and summer are prime time for those
The first sign of Lyme disease infection is usually a circular skin rash.
Early symptoms of Lyme disease may also include fever, headache, and
Untreated Lyme disease may spread to other parts of the body, including the
muscles, joints, heart, and nervous system.
There were fewer than 10,000 reported cases of Lyme disease in 1991, when
the CDC began tracking Lyme disease nationally.
The CDC's latest statistics, gathered from 2003 to 2005, show about 20,000
reported cases annually.
"This increase in cases is most likely the result of both a true
increase in the frequency of the disease as well as better recognition and
reporting due to enhanced detection of cases," says Paul Mead, MD, MPH, in
a CDC news release.
Mead is a medical epidemiologist with the CDC's Division of Vector-Borne
Lyme Disease in the U.S.
From 2003 to 2005, the CDC got reports of 64,382 people with Lyme disease in
46 states and Washington, D.C.
Most cases occurred in the following 10 northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and
north-central states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts,
Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin.
Lyme disease was most common among children aged 5 to 14 and adults aged
45-54. Cases peaked during summertime.
Preventing Lyme Disease: 14 Tips
Preventing Lyme disease means avoiding tick bites. The CDC's tips
- Avoid areas with lots of ticks. Ticks like wooded, bushy areas with high
grass and lots of leaf litter.
- Ask your local health department and park or extension service about
tick-infested areas to avoid.
- Use insect repellent with 20%-30% DEET on adult skin and clothing to
prevent tick bites.
- Wear long pants, long sleeves, and long socks to keep ticks off your
- Check your skin and clothes for ticks every day. Remove ticks before going
- In areas where ticks are found, walk in the center of trails to avoid
contact with overgrown grass, brush, and leaf litter.
- Remove leaf litter and clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the
edges of lawns.
- Place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to restrict tick
migration to recreational areas.
- Mow the lawn and clear brush and leaf litter frequently.
- Keep the ground under bird feeders clean.
- Stack wood neatly and in dry areas.
- Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and
- Since deer can carry ticks that transmit Lyme disease, discourage deer from
entering your yard.
- Take extra precautions in May, June, and July, when ticks that transmit
Lyme disease are most active.