Why confirmed cases of Lyme disease have increased

A chunk from an contaminated tick could cause Lyme disease

Recent monitoring rule adjustments led to a big improve in reported Lyme disease cases within the U.S. 

The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention up to date definitions to raised perceive the tick-borne disease. In 2022, reported cases rose by 68.5% after the brand new definition went into impact.

“The new Lyme disease case definition allows us to get a more accurate count of Lyme disease cases in high-incidence areas, which will improve our understanding of Lyme disease and its impact on people living in the United States,” says Dr. Bobbi Pritt, director of the Clinical Parasitology Laboratory at Mayo Clinic.

Watch: Dr. Bobbi Pritt talks about Lyme disease

Journalists: Broadcast-quality soundbites might be discovered within the downloads on the finish of the publish. Please courtesy: “Mayo Clinic News Network.” Name tremendous/CG: Bobbi Pritt, M.D./Microbiology/Mayo Clinic.

Lyme disease is a bacterial an infection attributable to the chunk of an contaminated black-legged tick, generally referred to as a deer tick.

It is commonest within the Upper Midwest and the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states. And it is also frequent in Europe, Asia, and in south-central and southeastern Canada.


Patients could present with a rash on the website of the tick chunk — classically with a bull’s-eye rash. But that is not all the time the case. 

Lyme disease rash on male arm - caused by a deer tick
 People with Lyme disease would possibly get a bull’s-eye rash. 

“Also, some folks could have a rash and never know if it is on the again of their head or one other hard-to-see and hard-to-reach space. If the an infection is just not handled immediately, the affected person could then progress to having different signs, like disseminated rashes, joint ache, arthritis and even neurologic involvement. And they’ll even have one-sided facial paralysis, referred to as Bell’s palsy,” says Dr. Pritt.

Lab checks assist verify or rule out diagnoses of Lyme disease. Dr. Pritt says that Mayo Clinic Laboratories carry out greater than 300,000 checks for tick-borne illnesses every year.

When to hunt medical care

Dr. Pritt says that discovering a tick on you and eradicating it promptly is just not a motive to hunt medical attention, particularly for these residing the place ticks are a each day incidence.

However, “If a patient lives in an area where there’s a lot of Lyme disease, finding a tick that’s been attached to them for more than 24 hours, ideally more than 36 hours, that in and of itself is enough to prompt them to go to their physician to see if they should get some antibiotics to prevent Lyme disease,” she says.

“If someone were to present with any illness during the spring, summer or fall months when they have been exposed to ticks — where they may have a rash, a headache, a fever — those could all be signs of tick-borne diseases, Lyme disease and other diseases. And that should prompt them to go to their physician,” says Dr. Pritt.


The finest method to keep away from an infection is to keep away from getting a tick chunk. Dr. Pritt says it is essential for folks to guard themselves from tick bites. Avoiding tick bites will shield them not simply from Lyme disease, but in addition many different tick-borne infections. 

Tick chunk prevention tips:

  • When potential, keep away from areas the place ticks are frequently discovered.
  • Use a repellent with 30% or extra of DEET.
  • Wear clothes that covers your legs and arms.
  • Tuck pants into socks whereas hiking.

“I also like oil of lemon eucalyptus, shown by the Environmental Protection Agency to be almost as effective as DEET, and smells a little better. Also, wearing permethrin sprayed on clothing is helpful. That also will repel and even kill ticks. Then, just cover up with clothing so that the ticks can’t get to your skin. If you tuck your pants into your socks, you’re taking away an avenue for ticks to get to your legs to bite you,” she says.

Check out Dr. Pritt’s interactive ABCs of tick prevention.

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