Safety: Guide to lyme disease

The purpose of this guide is to inform you about Lyme disease -- what it is, from where you can get it, and ways to avoid the tick which carries the disease. For further information on Lyme or other tick-borne diseases please refer to the address at the end of this document. Remember -- knowledge is your best friend, and a little common sense will go a long way in helping you to continue enjoying the outdoors.

Epidemiology

In order to assess Lyme disease risk you should know whether infected ticks are active in your area or places you may visit. There is even great variation from county to county within a state and from area to area within a county. For example. less than one percent of adult ticks south of Maryland are infected with B. burgdorferi, while up to 50 percent are infected in hyperendemic areas of the Northeast. The infection rate in Pacific coastal states is between 1% and 2%.

Lyme disease is spreading slowly along the east coast, and in the upper midwest. The mode of spread is not entirely clear and is probably due to a number of factors such as bird migration, deer and other large mammals' movement, and infected ticks dropping off of pets as people travel around the country.

As shown on the map, 11 states situated in areas with relatively large populations of infected ticks reported more than 100 cases of Lyme disease in 1993. Cases from these states comprised more than 90 percent of the U.S. total for the year.

Lyme Disease: The Cause

Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete, a corkscrew shaped bacterium named

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