While Lyme was previously considered an entirely Northeastern phenomenon, the bad news for U.S. citizens everywhere is that it has spread to all 49 states of the American mainland, excluding Hawaii. This is a concerning increase of a very dangerous disease that is yet to be taken seriously by the majority of medical professionals all over the country. Many people are still uninformed about the perils of Lyme disease, especially chronic Lyme, which can mutate and transform its symptoms as it entrenches itself deeper in the patient’s body, sometimes laying dormant for years before finally emerging.
Lyme is spread through tick bites, but many citizens of America assume that you can only catch it in the Northeast of the country, as that’s where the disease originated, and where the highest percentages of ticks are found. In fact, the deer ticks which transmit the disease can be found all over the U.S., as they have migrated to each and every corner of the continent; people need to be aware that you can now catch Lyme anywhere in the country, especially when temperatures are high in the summertime. Even in the winter, which is not typically thought of as Lyme season, if temperatures don’t fall beneath the certain point needed to kill the ticks then they can still pose a threat. Many states stay warm during the fall and winter, and can easily be a minefield of Lyme, just waiting to infect unsuspecting hikers, walkers and anyone else who comes into contact with long grass.
Long grass is a favourite habitat for ticks – when out hiking or walking, it’s best to stick to the paths to reduce your risk of a tick bite.
However, many people might be wondering exactly which state has the highest occurrence of Lyme in the U.S. While it is slightly immaterial to the omnipresent, multi-state dangers Lyme presents to America, it is still good to be aware of the states with the most cases of the disease. When looking at the statistics, you find there is some truth to the cliched view that the Northeast of the country is a hotbed of Lyme; all the top five states can be found in that part of the country. The Center for Disease Control (the CDC for short) receives notice of over 300,000 new cases of Lyme Disease each year, but this is merely the tip of the iceberg; Lyme is so adept at imitating the symptoms of other disorders that it regularly goes undiagnosed, or misdiagnosed, leading to general medical confusion and prolonged patient suffering.
The first case of Lyme ever known occurred in Lyme, Connecticut. The disease obviously takes its name from this state, leading many people to assume that Connecticut has the highest percentage of Lyme in the country. In actual fact, the state which gives Lyme its name comes in at six on the list, with five other Northeastern states ranking above it. This is probably because it doesn’t have as many people living in rural areas as some of its neighbors, leading to higher outbreaks of the disease. All of the five have concerning levels of Lyme, with more being confirmed at a startling pace; unlike other prominent and dangerous diseases, which show signs of being slowed or eradicated completely, Lyme is on the rise, with hundreds of thousands of cases coming to light each year.
Maine currently has the highest percentage of recorded Lyme cases across the US.
The state with the highest number of Lyme cases is Maine. Per 100,000 residents, there are a shocking 87.9 cases of Lyme, making it a startlingly prevalent condition which is close to becoming a certified plague upon the state. Lyme is now twice as common in Maine as it was just five years ago. Adding to this problem is the fact that most Maine residents (almost two thirds) live in rural areas, where there’s ample opportunity to come into contact with an infected tick. Some of the prevalence statistics can be chalked up to the fact that people and doctors alike are becoming more aware of Lyme and its dangers, but when all’s said and done, the rate of growth of this insidious disease is alarming. This doesn’t even take into the account the undoubtedly numerous cases of chronic Lyme which are misdiagnosed as other disorders, or written off as general malaise.
Following Maine in the top five Lyme states are Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania respectively. All of these states are aware of their issues surrounding Lyme, and most have set up some kind of base or center to help deal with the swelling numbers of cases. With the flood of Lyme hitting all the U.S. mainland states, other governing bodies need to take the threat very seriously, and start acknowledging the dangers Lyme poses, in both its chronic and acute forms. The Northeast may have the monopoly in Lyme cases as it stands, but taking recent trends as evidence, it won’t be long before the whole country is dealing with a major crisis. Some would argue it already is, which is why it pays to inform yourself and your family about Lyme and its associated symptoms.