Credit: Maria Diuk Wasser | Yale School of Public Health
Lyme Disease High-Risk Areas Revealed in New Map
An extensive field study hasِ identified areas ofِ the U.S.
whereِ people haveِ the highest risk ofِ contracting Lyme disease, according toِ theِ Centers forِ Disease Controland Prevention(CDC).
People areِ infected withِ bacteria thatِ causeِ Lyme disease whenِ theyِ areِ bitten byِ anِ infected deer tick.
Helping Make the Right Diagnosis
The public canِ use theِ map toِ seeِ whether theyِ haveِ beenِ to high risk areas, andِ to learn whetherِ areas theyِ areِ preparing toِ visit haveِ hasِ beenِ identified asِ having a high infection risk, andِ so takeِ the proper precautions.
The newِ findings willِ alsoِ be beneficial toِ doctors attempting toِ diagnose — orِ rule outِ — Lyme disease inِ their patients, byِ providing health officials withِ critical information onِ actual local risk, according toِ theِ researchers.
Doctors mayِ beِ less likelyِ to suspect andِ test forِ Lyme disease ifِ they areِ unaware a patient wasِ inِ a risky area and, conversely, theyِ mayِ act tooِ aggressively andِ prescribe unneeded andِ potentially dangerous treatments ifِ they incorrectly believeِ their patient wasِ exposed toِ theِ pathogen, Diuk-Wasser said.
To collect data forِ the study, scientists studied 304 sites fromِ Maine toِ Florida, andِ across theِ Midwest, betweenِ 2004 andِ 2007.
At eachِ location, theِ tick hunters combed forِ Lyme disease-carrying ticks called black legged ticks withِ a square ofِ light-colored corduroy cloth.
The findings showed a clearlyِ heightened risk ofِ Lyme disease inِ large parts ofِ the Northeast, fromِ Maine goingِ asِ far south asِ Maryland andِ northern Virginia.
Lyme Cases in the South
The South was rated as having a low infection risk, according to the survey findings.
There hasِ beenِ a lot ofِ discussion ofِ whether Lyme disease exists outsideِ ofِ the Northeast andِ the upper Midwest, butِ our sampling ofِ tick populations atِ hundreds ofِ sites suggests thatِ anyِ diagnosis ofِ Lyme disease inِ most ofِ the South shouldِ beِ put inِ serious doubt, unlessِ itِ involves someoneِ who hasِ traveled toِ anِ area whereِ theِ disease isِ common, Diuk-Wasser said..