Lyme cases found in Pennsylvania and the six New England states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont) made up over 60 percent of the positive tests discovered in 2017. Florida, for instance, had 501 infections, up 77 percent since 2015.
Dr. Mark Levine, Vermont's health commissioner, said when Lyme disease is contracted, "it comes through the bite of the tick and the organism gets into your bloodstream and then it spreads throughout your body". In 2017, California had 483 infected individuals - a 194 percent increase compared to 2015.
It's the first reported death due to Lyme carditis in Vermont.
"Lyme disease is a bigger risk to more people in the United States than ever before", said Harvey W. Kaufman, M.D., senior medical director for Quest Diagnostics and head of the company's Health Trends research program. With 10,001 cases in 2017, Pennsylvania saw the most positive Lyme disease test results of any state in the nation, and almost as many found in all New England states combined (11,549).
A Franklin County resident has died of Lyme carditis, a rare complication of the tick-borne Lyme disease that affects the heart, the Centers for Disease Control has determined. The New Jersey-based clinical laboratory says cases of Lyme have exploded in unusual areas like California and Florida.
According to the department, though Lyme disease has become more common, this particular complication is rare, occurring in about one percent of cases. Pennsylvania had 10,001 cases of Lyme disease in 2017, more than any other state in the nation.
Georgia, Arizona, Ohio, Texas, Tennessee, and Virginia also saw disturbing increases in Lyme diagnoses according to Quest Diagnostics.
"Antibiotics will take care of Lyme and antibiotics will take care of this manifestation we've been talking about, carditis", Levine said. The CDC reports that in the last 30 years there have only been nine cases of fatal Lyme carditis in the United States.
Lyme Disease is transmitted by blacklegged ticks infected with the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. Now, all 50 states plus the District of Columbia have residents who have tested positive for Lyme, a bacterial infection that can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including joint aches, fatigue, facial palsy and neck stiffness.