Special Report

The Worst States For Lyme Disease

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11. Minnesota
> Avg. new Lyme disease cases per year: 19.5 confirmed cases per 100,000 people
> Total cases in 2019: 1,528 (915 confirmed, 613 probable)
> Worst year in last decade: 2013; 26.4 confirmed cases per 100,000 people
> Physically active adults: 80.4% (10th highest)
> Uninsured rate: 4.9% (6th lowest)

Minnesota is one of only two Midwestern states classified as high-incidence for Lyme disease by the CDC — meaning it has had at least 10 confirmed cases per 100,000 people for three reporting years. Over the last three years, there have been an average of 19.5 confirmed cases of Lyme in the state for every 100,000 people, the 11th highest rate among states.

Not only do parts of Minnesota offer blacklegged ticks a suitable habitat, but residents of the state appear more likely to come into contact with disease-carrying ticks by engaging in outdoor activities. Over 80% of adults in the state are regularly physically active, one of the higher shares among states.

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10. Wisconsin
> Avg. new Lyme disease cases per year: 23.7 confirmed cases per 100,000 people
> Total cases in 2019: 2,178 (1,219 confirmed, 959 probable)
> Worst year in last decade: 2010; 44.0 confirmed cases per 100,000 people
> Physically active adults: 79.7% (14th highest)
> Uninsured rate: 5.7% (9th lowest)

Wisconsin has the highest incidence rate of Lyme disease in the Midwest and the 10th highest of any state nationwide. There are an average of 23.7 known cases of the disease for every 100,000 people per year.

As is the case in much of the country, cases are becoming less common in Wisconsin. There were only 20.9 cases for every 100,000 people in the state in 2019, less than half the 10-year high of 44.0 per 100,000 reported in 2010.

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9. Connecticut
> Avg. new Lyme disease cases per year: 32.1 confirmed cases per 100,000 people
> Total cases in 2019: 1,233 (795 confirmed, 438 probable)
> Worst year in last decade: 2013; 58.7 confirmed cases per 100,000 people
> Physically active adults: 80.1% (12th highest)
> Uninsured rate: 5.9% (12th lowest)

Lyme disease was first identified in Connecticut in the 1970s, and today, the state remains one of the hotspots for the disease. There are an average of 32.1 new infections for every 100,000 people annually in Connecticut, more than four times the national incidence rate.

Encouragingly, the disease appears to be becoming less common in the state. There were only 22.3 cases of Lyme reported for every 100,000 people in Connecticut in 2019, the lowest infection rate in the last decade and less than half the 10-year high of 58.7 incidents per 100,000 people reported in 2013.

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8. West Virginia
> Avg. new Lyme disease cases per year: 32.5 confirmed cases per 100,000 people
> Total cases in 2019: 885 (703 confirmed, 182 probable)
> Worst year in last decade: 2019; 39.2 confirmed cases per 100,000 people
> Physically active adults: 72.0% (5th lowest)
> Uninsured rate: 6.7% (19th lowest)

West Virginia recently became a high-incidence state for Lyme disease after reporting more than 10 cases for every 100,000 people in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Cases of the disease have continued to increase in the years since, and in 2019, the state reported a 10-year high of 39.2 cases for every 100,000 people.

In light of the recent increase, researchers at West Virginia University are working on developing a vaccine to protect against Lyme disease with the help of a $1.9 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

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7. New Jersey
> Avg. new Lyme disease cases per year: 33.2 confirmed cases per 100,000 people
> Total cases in 2019: 3,619 (2,400 confirmed, 1,219 probable)
> Worst year in last decade: 2015; 43.9 confirmed cases per 100,000 people
> Physically active adults: 73.4% (11th lowest)
> Uninsured rate: 7.9% (24th lowest)

The humidity common in much of the mid-Atlantic region allows tick populations to thrive. In New Jersey, 2,400 people were infected with Lyme disease by blacklegged ticks, and an additional 1,219 people were likely infected in 2019. Over the last three years, there have been an average of 33.2 confirmed cases of Lyme disease for every 100,000 people in the state annually, the seventh highest infection rate of any state.

Encouragingly, cases of the disease are becoming less common in the state. The 2019 infection rate of 27 cases for every 100,000 people is the lowest it has been in New Jersey in at least a decade.