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Lyme Disease Surge in Pennsylvania and Other Key U.S. States

In 2022, the U.S. witnessed a significant increase in Lyme disease cases, totaling 62,551, markedly higher than the decade’s average of 33,000 cases annually. Pennsylvania was particularly hard-hit, contributing nearly 30% of all reported cases between 2016 and 2019, demonstrating its status as a major epicenter of Lyme disease in the U.S. Other states with notably high infection rates included Rhode Island, leading with 212 cases per 100,000 people, Vermont with 204 cases per 100,000, and Maine with 194.7 cases per 100,000. New Jersey also reported a substantial number of cases, accounting for 12% of the national total.

The rise in Lyme disease cases is largely attributed to the expansion of tick populations due to climate change, which causes warmer temperatures and higher humidity levels, enhancing tick survival and activity. The blacklegged tick, the primary carrier of Lyme disease, is now more frequently encountered in both traditional and new areas, increasing the risk of Lyme disease transmission.

Symptoms of Lyme disease can range from the well-known “bullseye” rash, fever, chills, and fatigue, to severe long-term effects such as neurological disorders, heart conditions, and joint problems if not treated promptly. To prevent Lyme disease, health officials recommend wearing permethrin-treated clothing, avoiding areas with high grass and leaf litter, sticking to the center of trails while hiking, and performing thorough tick checks after spending time outdoors in wooded regions.

The significant prevalence of Lyme disease in Pennsylvania and its neighbors underscores the need for increased public awareness and adoption of preventative measures to mitigate the growing impact of this tick-borne illness.

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