Lyme Disease Cases More than Triple Since 1992

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HEADLINE: CDC: Lyme Disease Cases More than Triple Since 1992

SUMMARY: The cases of Lyme disease — the most commonly reported vector-borne illness (or disease transmitted to humans by ticks, mosquitoes, or fleas) in the United States – more than tripled between 1992 and 2009 to about 30,000.

Children are more at risk because they spend more time playing outdoors and in high grass or leaves, where the ticks that spread Lyme disease are found. Lyme disease is transmitted to people through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks, which are most active May through July.

Symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, fatigue, and a large, expanding skin rash. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.

ANALYSIS by Dr. Don Donahue, Director, Firestorm Healthcare Response Team

First identified in 1975 in Old Lyme, Conn., Lyme disease (Lyme borreliosis) is an example of a new disease that has spread across the United States in a relatively short period.

As with all insect borne diseases, it is not always possible to prevent infection but precautions can reduce the possibility of illness.
Unlike the common perception of the insect, Lyme-carrying ticks are typically very small and can be hard to detect.

Limiting opportunities for contact and checking for ticks after potential exposures can reduce the chances of becoming ill.

Opportunities for infection can result from owning a pet that may carry ticks home, walking or playing in high grass, and activities such as gardening, hunting, or hiking.

Wearing long sleeves and pants can reduce, but not eliminate, the chance of being infected. Tucking cuffs into shoes or socks increases protection.

Use insect repellant. Lyme disease symptoms resemble those of the flu. A telltale indicator is the “bull’s-eye” rash; imagine a mosquito bite with a similarly colored ring around the bite.

Lyme is treatable with antibiotics, with the best results coming from early treatment. See your healthcare provider if you suspect you may have Lyme disease.

Have a question for Dr. Don?  Ask in the comments section.

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