According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vectorborne illness in the U.S. and in 2012 had over 22,00 confirmed cases. Read more about this on the CDC Website here http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/stats/index.html. According to the National Institute of Allergies & Infectious Diseases, Lyme disease is in fact, the most common tickborne infectious disease in the United States. In Michigan, an increase in the number of ticks has led to an increase in number of confirmed cases of the disease with over 80 diagnosed in 2011 however, this is still far fewer than in many other states. Michigan is not an endemic state of Lyme disease. In fact, the majority of the cases of Lyme disease which occur, do so in 13 states and Michigan is not one of them.
States With The Highest Reported Cases Of Lyme Disease
- Connecticut – 1653 confirmed in 2012
- Delaware – 507 confirmed in 2012
- Maine – 885 confirmed in 2012
- Maryland – 1113 confirmed in 2012
- Massachusetts – 3396 confirmed in 2012
- Minnesota – 911 confirmed in 2012
- New Hampshire – 1102 confirmed in 2012
- New Jersey – 2732 confirmed in 2012
- New York – 2044 confirmed in 2012
- Pennsylvania – 4046 confirmed in 2012
- Vermont – 386 confirmed in 2012
- Virginia – 805 confirmed in 2012
- Wisconsin – 1368 confirmed in 2012
What Is Lyme Disease And Where Does It Come From?
Lyme disease is an infection which is transmitted to people via tick bites. For those of us who have experienced the increase in tick populations first hand in Michigan in the past two years, this likely leaves more than a little fear in the back of your mind. If you have had a tick bite, watch for any possible symptoms especially if you have been in an area known to have reported cases of Lyme disease. Symptoms of Lyme disease to watch for include the typical “bull’s-eye rash early on and later, additional lesions may appear, facial or Bell’s palsy, severe headaches, pain and swelling in joints, shooting pains or heart palpitations. While a majority of those who are affected by this disease have no more symptoms following treatment with antibiotics, a small percentage of patients will have long lasting symptoms. If you have been bitten by a tick, are having symptoms similar to these and have not yet seen a doctor, schedule an appointment right away to find out if you may be infected.
What To Do To Protect Yourself
- Pay careful attention during the months when bites are most likely including May, June, July and August
- Wear bug spray
- Wear long pants and tuck them in when hiking in the woods
- Do tick checks after being outdoors even under your clothes
- Keep long grass cut short during the summer months
- Watch your pets as they are often targeted by ticks as well
- If you do find yourself with a tick attached to your skin, the CDC recommends the following method for removal:
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
- After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
- Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers ( Taken from the CDC website http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/removal/index.html)
Don’t live in fear however, do protect yourself and those you love by understanding health issues you face and doing your part to avoid them.