By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews 

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) received a record number of Lyme disease case reports from health providers in 2019, with 2,079 cases as of January 16, 2020. This is the highest number of cases ever reported in the state, and the number may continue to rise as providers make additional case reports.

ticks
Ixodes scapularis/CDC

Lyme disease is caused by bacteria carried by infected deer ticks. The hallmark sign of the disease is a rash referred to as the “bull’s-eye” rash due to its pattern on the skin. This rash occurs in just over 50 percent of patients in Maine, usually within three to 30 days of a tick bite. Other symptoms include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, and muscle and joint aches, with later signs of illness including arthritis and heart problems. Lyme disease cannot be transmitted from human to human.

“While we can’t yet speculate about the reason for this increase, these new numbers emphasize the importance of preventing tick bites,” said Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine CDC. “Lyme disease and other tickborne diseases are on the rise, so Mainers need to proactively protect themselves.”

In 2019, Maine also experienced increases in two other tickborne diseases, anaplasmosis and babesiosis. Last year, 685 cases of anaplasmosis and 138 cases of babesiosis were reported. Cumulative reporting of Lyme disease cases takes more time because the process of confirming a Lyme disease diagnosis often takes longer than for anaplasmosis or babesiosis.