Special Report

12 Worst States for Lyme Disease

8. Delaware
>Incidence of Lyme disease:
36.4 (per 100,000 residents)
>Confirmed cases: 341 (14th highest)
>Pct. population rural: 16.7%
>Pct. adults physically active: 75.2% (16th lowest)

Lyme disease was more common in Delaware than in any other state during five of the last 10 years. However, the diagnosis rate has fallen recently in the state. There were 36.4 confirmed cases of Lyme disease for every 100,000 state residents in 2014, a 50% decline from 2010.

State lawmakers are taking proactive measures to address the disease. The state legislature recently passed two bills based on recommendations from a newly-created Lyme Disease Prevention Task Force. House Bill 290 is aimed at reducing the number of disease-carrying ticks in the state, and House Bill 291 is meant to ensure comprehensive, ongoing Lyme disease education for medical professionals in the state.

7. New Hampshire
>Incidence of Lyme disease:
46.9 (per 100,000 residents)
>Confirmed cases: 622 (11th highest)
>Pct. population rural: 39.7%
>Pct. adults physically active: 79.2% (13th highest)

There were 622 cases of Lyme disease in New Hampshire in 2014. The incidence of Lyme disease diagnosis can vary year to year depending on a number of conditions, including weather and awareness. While generally the disease is becoming more common in the United States, diagnosis rates in New Hampshire have improved in recent years. The number of incidents per capita in the state is down by roughly a quarter from five years ago.

The ticks that can transfer Lyme disease to humans are typically found in heavily wooded areas. In New Hampshire, 39.7% of the population lives in a rural area, one of the highest such shares of any state in the country.

6. Connecticut
>Incidence of Lyme disease:
47.8 (per 100,000 residents)
>Confirmed cases: 1,719 (5th highest)
>Pct. population rural: 12.0%
>Pct. adults physically active: 78.2% (18th highest)

Lyme disease gets its name from Lyme, Connecticut, a small town along the eastern shore of Connecticut River, just north of Long Island Sound. The disease was discovered there in the mid-1970s, when children were being diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at the height of tick season. Today, Lyme disease is far more common in Connecticut than in much of the country, with 47.8 diagnoses for every 100,000 state residents in 2014.

Lyme disease is typically contracted in wooded areas, and though a relatively small share of Connecticut residents live in rural areas, there are still many opportunities for individuals to be exposed to black-legged ticks. In Connecticut, 94.4% of state residents have adequate access to areas for physical activity, the second highest share of any state in the country. These areas include parks, which are often heavily wooded.

5. Pennsylvania
>Incidence of Lyme disease:
50.6 (per 100,000 residents)
>Confirmed cases: 6,470 (the highest)
>Pct. population rural: 21.3%
>Pct. adults physically active: 76.0% (24th lowest)

Pennsylvania had the highest number of confirmed cases of Lyme disease in 2014. There were 50.6 cases of the disease for every 100,000 state residents, more than in all but four other states. As was the case in many other states, 2014 marked a 10-year high for Lyme disease in Pennsylvania. In fact, the 2014 infection rate in the Keystone State is nearly double the rate from just five years ago.

In 2014, the state created a task force to recommend policy changes to increase education, awareness, prevention, and surveillance of Lyme disease. The task force submitted more than a dozen recommendations in 2015, including a multimedia public awareness campaign designed to target high risk groups such as school-age children and older adults.

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