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Rising Rashes: California and Florida See Record Increase in Lyme Disease Cases

Lyme disease infections have been increasing in the U.S., and California and Florida lead the rest of the country with the greatest number of documented cases.

According to a study published by Quest Diagnostics, an independent American clinical laboratory that does diagnostic testing for several diseases and disorders, the number of Lyme disease cases is increasing in the United States, with a notable surge between 2016 and 2017.

Based on test results spanning seven years, the study also found that California and Florida saw the largest increase in positive test results.

In California, 483 infected patients were documented in 2017, a 194.5 percent increase compared to 2015. Florida documented 501 cases in 2017, a 77 percent increase compared to 2015.

Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium responsible for Lyme disease, under a darkfield microscope.

The report also provided other insights about the disease.  According to the study, Lyme disease is still most rampant in the Northeastern U.S. Pennsylvania, along with Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont made up 60.6 percent of the total number of documented Lyme disease test results in 2017.

With a total number of 10,001 documented cases, Pennsylvania saw the greatest number of positive Lyme disease test results in the country. The number of positive test results is almost equal to those found in all New England states combined (11,549).

A considerable rise in the number of Lyme disease cases between 2015 and 2017 was also observed in other states like Arizona, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Lyme disease is an infection caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Blacklegged ticks or deer ticks infected by this bacterium pass it on to humans through their bite.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease annually.

The usual symptoms of Lyme disease include the “bullseye” shaped mark that forms around the area of the tick bite. Fever, chills and muscle ache are also early symptoms of the disease.

The CDC recommends treating clothing and gear with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin when venturing into areas that are likely to be infested by ticks. These areas include brushy locations with high grass and leaf litter.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellants containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone can also be used to protect yourself from tick bites.

For more information and details on how to protect yourself from tick bites, go to the CDC website on how to avoid tick infections.