State News

Vermont sees nation’s largest increase in Lyme disease in 10 years

Each year, approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to the CDC by state health departments.

As stated by the CDC, “There is no way of knowing exactly how many people get Lyme disease. A recently released estimate based on insurance records suggests that each year approximately 476,000 Americans are diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease. This number is likely an overestimate of actual infections because patients are sometimes treated presumptively in medical practice.” Since the early 2000s national and state health departments have been actively tracking Lyme disease cases. Statistics seem to show that Lyme disease continues to build each year and spread to new areas of the United States. What was once an illness seen in heavily wooded areas of the New England region has now spread south and west seemingly gaining a foothold in almost every state. States and regions near the northeast U.S. have the largest increase in cases, but now, even midwestern states are reporting Lyme disease in their areas.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection you get from the bite of an infected tick and if not treated effectively, it can cause great pain and illness to someone. As we enter the 2022 tick season, Dr. Sunjya Schweig, founder of the California Center for Functional Medicine, stated, “From what we are seeing so far, there has been an increase in tick bites in the United States this year and therefore we can assume there would be more tick-borne infections”. Because warmer, shorter winters from climate change have played a role in the increase of tick-borne illnesses and this again is a reason why case numbers continue to rise.

Data from the CDC shows Lyme disease is most prevalent in the northeast of the U.S. but over the past few years, it has started to spread northwest and south.

Pennsylvania continues to lead the U.S. in the largest number of reported cases each year. However, Maine reports 121 cases per 100,000 people, beating out the rest of the U.S. Second closest is Vermont, reporting 113 cases per 100,000.

There are only three states in the northeast that have reported a drop in cases; Connecticut (-33%), Wisconsin (-13) and Delaware (-2%). However, six northeastern states reported large increases in the total number of cases from 2010 to 2019.

Key points:

  • Vermont has the largest increase of cases in all states: + 744%
  • Rhode Island cases: + 292%
  • Maine cases increased by 288%
  • Pennsylvania cases: +173%
  • New Hampshire cases: +106%
  • New York cases: + 78%

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