Annual Tickborne disease update

By Chris Williams on March 25, 2019.

As we move into the spring season and a more active time of year outdoors for many, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of doing tick checks.  I’ve been following CDC data for years on the reporting of Lyme and there was a record number of cases of tickborne diseases reported for the year 2017.  Reporting of all tickborne diseases (Lyme disease, anaplasmosis/ehrlichiosis, spotted fever rickettsiosis, babesiosis, tularemia and Powassan virus all increased from 48,610 cases in 2016 to 59,349 cases in 2017. Actual numbers are probably higher.

Exact reasons for the increase are unclear as several environmental factors can affect tick population numbers from year to year including populations of suitable host animals. (mice, chipmunks, squirrel, and deer etc.)  From my casual observation, there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of squirrels and mice for several years now.

The news isn’t all bad though. In my ‘backyard’(I live in a NH city that borders Maine)  the number of cases of Lyme in the state of Maine dropped sharply in 2018.  It is thought that a dry summer may have been a contributing factor.

Reported cases of other tick borne diseases also declined. I don’t have any hard statistics for tickborne illness reporting for the 2018 season in MA or NH but just a guess, may have experienced declines there also.

The following link from the NH Division of Public Health Services summarizes nicely the current knowlege of tickborne diseases in the state.  New ones are being discovered and some are ascending in importance.

Enjoy the great outdoors this upcoming spring and summer, but don’t forget to check yourself for ticks!!



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