Though it is not one of the most feared infections in the United States, Lyme disease is a debilitating, sometimes fatal infection passed to humans by infected blacklegged ticks. There were more than 29,500 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in the United States in 2017 — or 9.1 per 100,000 people. Humans contract the disease when a blacklegged tick infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi bites them and stays attached for 36 to 48 hours.
24/7 Tempo reviewed CDC data on confirmed cases of the disease to determine the worst states in the country for Lyme disease. The climate in Northeastern states tends to be more hospitable to disease-carrying ticks and the animals that carry them, and as a result, Lyme disease incidence rates tend to be higher in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic.
Lyme disease has a wide range of symptoms. Shortly after the tick bites, a rash can develop at the site, though not in all cases. Other early signs include flu-like symptoms such as fevers, headaches, and joint pain. The disease can be treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, later symptoms can include neck stiffness, inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, pain and numbness in the extremities, and even short-term memory loss.
Americans who are physically active outdoors are at increased risk of contracting Lyme disease — and some of the states on this list are home to cities where people get the most exercise.
To determine the worst states for Lyme disease, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed Lyme disease data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The data included the incidence of Lyme disease in every state in 2017, the most recent year with available data and the total number of confirmed cases by state. The percentage of adults who are physically active came from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program. Uninsured rates are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.