Lyme disease: Human cases

January 8, 2018

When discussing the dangers of tick-borne diseases like Lyme with your veterinary clients, it may be helpful to include human incidence rates too.

Every year, state and local health departments collect Lyme disease reports and submit them to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The total number of cases tends to be around 30,000. The graph above shows the 15 states that qualify as high-incidence states, meaning they have an average incidence of at least 10 confirmed cases per 100,000 people for the previous three reporting years (2014-2016).

Using the three-year average is preferred, as according to the CDC's website, the reported data are “subject to each state's abilities to capture and classify cases, which are dependent upon budget and personnel and vary not only between states, but also from year to year within a given state.” In other words, a sudden or significant change in the data may be more related to human and financial resources than to the true disease incidence.

A few other points worth putting in the lymelight:

> Ninety-five percent of confirmed Lyme disease cases in 2015 were reported from 14 of the states on the graph above (excluding West Virginia).

> The national three-year average incidence rate for Lyme disease in 2014-2016 is eight.

> High-incidence states for people match high-risk Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) states-except the CAPC data also includes Alaska and Wyoming in 2016.

> According to the CDC's website, “Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vectorborne illness in the United States.”