Overview of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is a progressive, systemic illness that is caused by bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi) and is usually transmitted by the bite of an infected deer tick. Infection may result in flu-like symptoms (e.g., malaise, fever, headache, fatigue, muscle pain) and the characteristic "bull's eye" rash. If left untreated, it may cause arthritis and affect the heart and central nervous system. Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics.
Incidence and Prevalence of Lyme Disease
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 30,000 confirmed cases of Lyme disease are reported each year in the United States. It is endemic (prevalent) throughout the wooded coastal regions of the Northeast, the upper Midwest and Great Lakes region, and the Pacific Northwest. In the Northeast and Great Lakes regions, the disease is more prevalent from May to August. In the Pacific Northwest, it is more prevalent from January to May.
In August 2013, the CDC reported that the number of people infected with Lyme each year in the United States is actually about 10 times higher300,000. Studies are ongoing to determine how many people are infected annually and how to prevent infection.