Special Report

Worst States for Lyme Disease

Cases of the novel coronavirus continue to soar in the United States, and millions of Americans are making a conscious effort to protect themselves by wearing masks and by adhering to social distancing recommendations. In this context, it can be easy to forget some perennial risks to our health that, with some precaution, are avoidable. One of them is Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection humans can get from certain species of parasitic ticks — western blacklegged ticks along the Pacific Coast, and deer ticks or blacklegged ticks in the rest of the country. Ticks contract the disease from animals like deer or mice and can pass it along to humans if they are able to attach to bare skin for at least 36 hours.

Symptoms of the disease include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and between 70% and 80% of people with the disease develop a rash that resembles a bull’s eye. In most cases, Lyme disease is curable with a regimen of antibiotics. The disease is most commonly contracted in the spring and summer months. Here is a look at other health problems common in the winter and fall.

Though cases of Lyme have been reported in every state, the infection is far more common in certain parts of the country. Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24/7 Wall St. identified the worst states for Lyme disease. We ranked states based on the average annual number of infections from 2016 to 2018, adjusted for population. We included Washington, D.C., in our analysis.

Nationwide, there are 8.1 cases of Lyme disease for every 100,000 people every year. In most of the places on this list — which are concentrated in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, and Midwest — the infection rate is many times greater than the national average.

Even in higher risk areas, there are measures people can take to reduce the likelihood of infection. Ticks live in grassy and forested areas, so avoiding such places when possible is the best way to prevent tick bites. When venturing into areas with dense brush, wearing long sleeves and pants and showering and checking for ticks afterward can also reduce risk of infection. Here is a list of 16 tips to prevent different types of infections.

Click here to see the worst states for lyme disease.
Click here to read our methodology.