CDC: Lyme disease's geographic reach is expanding

The geographic reach of Lyme disease is expanding to states that previously reported a low incidence of the disease, according to the CDC's most recent Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report.

For the report, CDC researchers analyzed data on 275,589 confirmed and probable Lyme disease cases compiled in the agency's National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System from 2008 to 2015. Among the 14 states located in the Midwest, mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions of the U.S. categorized as high-incidence areas for Lyme disease, seven experienced a decline in infections from 2008 to 2015. However, among 11 states neighboring high-incidence states, eight saw the number of confirmed cases increase over the same timeframe.

"Lyme disease continues to be the most commonly reported vectorborne disease in the United States," wrote the authors of the report. "Although concentrated in historically high-incidence areas, the geographic distribution is expanding into neighboring states. The trend of stable to decreasing case counts in many states with high incidence could be a result of multiple factors, including actual stabilization of disease incidence or artifact due to modifications in reporting practices employed by some states to curtail the resource burden associated with Lyme disease surveillance."

Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by the transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. The illness can adversely affect the heart, joints and nervous system.

To learn more about Lyme disease, click here.

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