Walk in lab

The Maine Centers for Disease Control (Maine CDC) released the end-of-year data for 2017 reportable diseases recently and we find that the three common tickborne diseases–Lyme disease, babesiosis and anaplasmosis-are all up from the year prior.

Concerning Lyme disease, 1787 cases were reported, a record high, up from 1464 in 2016. This is also well above the 5-year-median of 1384 cases reported in the state.

Ixodes scapularis/CDC

Lyme disease is not only the most common tick-borne disease in the US, it is the most common vector-borne disease in the country.

Each year, more than 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to the US CDC, making it the most commonly reported tick-borne illness in the United States. The new estimate suggests that the total number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease is roughly 10 times higher than the yearly reported number.

In 2013, CDC released preliminary estimates indicating that the number of Americans diagnosed with Lyme disease each year is in excess of 300,000.

In 2016, CDC reported 36,429 cases (26,203 confirmed and 10,226 probable).

The number of the tickborne parasitic disease, babesiosis cases were also up in 2017. Maine CDC officials reports 117 this past year, while seeing 83 in 2016.

Babesiosis is a parasitic disease of the red blood cells which can be found worldwide: however, most documented cases have been found in the United States. Most human infections are attributed to the species, Babesia microti, while other species are less often seen in zoonotic infections.

CDC reported 1,910 cases (1,585 confirmed and 325 probable).

It is seen most frequently in the Northeast (Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island) and to a lesser extent in the upper Midwest (Minnesota and Wisconsin).

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The parasite is typically transmitted through a tick bite, Ixodes scapularis in the U.S., from late spring to early fall. It can also be transmitted through blood transfusions and this is not restricted by geographical regions.

Anaplasmosis cases in Maine increased significantly in 2017 from 372 cases reported in 2016 to 662 cases last year.

The organism that causes this disease is called Anaplasma phagocytophilum. It is an intracellular pathogen that is part of the Rickettsia (the same group of bacteria that cause Rocky Mountain spotted fever amongst other diseases) family.

Formerly known as human granulocytic ehrlichiosis, and as the former name of the disease implies, it’s an infection of the white blood cells.

People get this infection through the bite of an infected tick. Depending on the part of the United States you are, the tick species is different: the eastern part of the country is the black-legged tick, Ixodes scapularis, and in the western part of the country, Ixodes pacificus, is usually involved. These are deer ticks that are also involved in the transmission of Lyme disease.

In 2016, 4,151 anaplasmosis cases were recorded by the CDC.