The spread of Lyme disease

cdc national lyme disease map animation 2001-2010

Reported cases, year by year, from 2001-2010.

Mappage: We came across this CDC map of reported Lyme disease cases over the last decade (ending in 2010). The CDC site allows you to switch from year-to-year -- we piled all those years into the animation above.

The thing that struck us about the map is the way it illustrates how Lyme has spread from the coast and the very central part of the Hudson Valley to the entire Northeast (as well as Wisconsin and Minnesota).

As it happens, the number of reported cases in New York was down noticeably in 2010, the last year for which the data's posted by the CDC. The state's incidence rate that year -- confirmed cases per 100,000 people -- was 12.3 that year (12th highest in the country). It was 21.2 in 2009, and 29.5 in 2008.

Delaware led the nation in 2010 with a rate of 73.1. Vermont's rate was 43.3 that year, and Massachusetts' 36.3.

Earlier this spring a research org in the Hudson Valley -- the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies -- reported the "northeastern U.S. should prepare for a surge in Lyme disease this spring." And the reason wasn't the mild winter. Rather, researchers based their projections on mice and acorns:

"We had a boom in acorns, followed by a boom in mice. And now, on the heels of one of the smallest acorn crops we've ever seen, the mouse population is crashing," [Dr. Richard S.] Ostfeld explains. Adding, "This spring, there will be a lot of Borrelia burgdorferi-infected black-legged ticks in our forests looking for a blood meal. And instead of finding a white-footed mouse, they are going to find other mammals--like us."

One thing we did notice about the warm spring -- the ticks were out early.

Here's a New York State Department of Health page about Lyme, with info about how protect against ticks.

This past May, at a conference at Skidmore, Chris Gibson and Paul Tonko said they're pushing for a federal advisory council to better coordinate and publicize treatments for Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. [Daily Gazette]

Bonus bit: The name "Lyme disease" dates back to a cluster of cases near Lyme, Connecticut in 1975. But the earliest-known case of infection with the bacteria that cause the disease:a 5,000-year-old mummy found in the Alps. [Wikipedia] [National Geographic]

[map via @AndyArthur]

maps: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Please educate yourself on all species of ticks found in the USA / Canada and all the pathogens that can be transmitted - AND proper removal of the ticks that you see. Ticks are dispersed on songbirds and migrating birds and you do not have to visit an endemic area to become infected.

Based on this animation, I'm moving to Colorado.

Our daughter Addie has Lyme Disease, and we never found the tick. We suspecdt she may contracted it on a weekend visit to Martha's Vineyard in May.

Animated mappage is super cool. Montana is looking pretty good right now.

My doctor recently asked me if I planned on venturing into the woods this summer. I said no, and he said good. He told me the spread of Lyme in the Capital District is becoming an epidemic.

The Lyme Disease epidemic has been caused by the deer epidemic. Because of their large size, deer are the primary host of the adult deer tick, which requires a blood meal from a sizeable mammal for reproduction. The adult deer ticks, each of which lays thousands of eggs, are spread all around by the deer because of their large range. These eggs hatch into larvae and then nymphs which feed primarily on small mammals like mice. Eliminating the deer host interrupts this cycle. As explained in this information, “Simply reducing deer numbers to natural levels, without any other actions of any kind taken, can eradicate Lyme Disease.” :

It's really sad that this will keep people out of the woods. Lyme disease is very serious, but so is staying inside. Just make a commitment to tick check afterwards. (And hike with someone you might like to see naked.)

This data confirms what I understood from experience & anecdotal evidence. Thanks for sharing it.

And ditto to "Animated mappage is super cool." :)

Smart outdoor practices and knowing the signs > not venturing into the woods

Damn acorns.

Have you ever wondered why there isn't a human vaccine?
Well there was one until 2002, until there was a media fear mongering based on reasreach articles that actually didn't justify the claims and GSK pulled it.

Leave the drug approval to the FDA media!

And be very careful with your pets, too.

My partner's parents' dog was just treated for Lyme which they believe was caught either down on Long Island where they were visiting other family or at home near West Point.

They had been using one of those prescription monthly flea & tick treatments, too, but one tick got her anyway.

To underline Alexander's point, I think we just need to eat more venison. You won't get any argument from me!

Public health officials downplay the dangers of the Lyme Disease epidemic. It is represented as being easy to spot and cure. Yet most infections are transmitted by the minute poppy-seed-sized nymphs which are often not noticed, especially when in the hair, etc. 70% of victims never have a rash, and the rash, which is often not the advertised bulls-eye, is frequently missed. 20% of patients initially treated with antibiotics go on to develop symptoms (joints, brain, heart, etc.) later. An increasing number are developing other co-infections, since the deer tick carries many diseases.

Over the past century the deer population has exploded and so has the deer tick population. We are suffering the consequences which require vast life-style changes necessary to try to avoid the Lyme disease plague. Deer are the primary host of the adult egg-laying deer ticks which require a blood meal from a large mammal. Each adult tick can lay 3000 eggs which hatch into larvae and then nymphs, hosted by small mammals like mice. Going after the deer breaks this cycle. In Bridgeport CT, lowering the deer population 74% resulted in a 92% decrease in nymphal deer ticks. In Groton CT the deer population was reduced from 77 per square mile to 10 per square mile, and the Lyme Disease incidence decreased by 83%.. See pages 2-4:

Don't be so quick to assume that, based on these results, there is not a problem in the southeast (or Colorado). The problem is that there is a stricter threshold for reporting of Lyme cases in the southeast. As one who lives in Alabama and has a son who is infected with Lyme (and 2 coinfections) and has met numerous others in our state and the southeast who have been infected with Lyme, I can tell you that the reporting is skewed. Just the number of people I have met in my small circle of freinds/acquaintances is almost 10 times what is reported by the CDC.

I don't know what is behind the disparity in reporting criteria but I know that if we had strictly followed CDC guidelines for testing we would likely not have our son today. After seeing 25 doctors in the southeast, some at leading teaching hospitals, we traveled 12oo mile to find a Lyme literate doctor who would properly test and treat our son for this deadly disease. Something has to change!

It is represented as being easy to spot and cure. Yet....70% of victims never have a rash, and the rash, which is often not the advertised bulls-eye

Totally agree! I had a rash at a place of tick bite and it looked nothing like the exaggerated bull's eye of your typical google image search.
Chronic Lyme is serious. I know someone who's suffering from it. He's a human wreck: can barely keep a 9-5 desk job and is unable to help with chores in a household with a young child.

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