Maine CDC Press Release

May 2, 2011

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month

AUGUSTA - Lyme disease was first clearly described in Connecticut in 1975, but it had likely been in the United States much longer.

"Lyme moved in to Maine in 1987," said Dr. Stephen Sears, State Epidemiologist "and has been increasing ever since." That is why the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) is proud to support the official declaration of May as Lyme Disease Awareness Month.

Lyme disease is the second most commonly reported infectious disease in Maine and continues to rise statewide. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is carried by the deer tick. Cases have increased over the last five years in Maine and occur in all 16 counties. It is most common among school-aged children and middle-aged adults. As the weather continues to get warmer, more ticks will be out in the open. Most infections in Maine occur during the summer months.

The most common early symptom of Lyme disease is an expanding red rash that occurs at the site of the tick bite within 3-32 days after being bitten. Fever, join and muscle pains may also occur. Lyme disease is treatable and the majority of patients recover after receiving appropriate therapy.

Lyme disease is preventable. Maine CDC recommends following the “No Ticks 4 ME” approach which includes:

  1. Wear protective clothing
  2. Use insect repellent
  3. Perform daily tick checks
  4. Use caution in tick habitats

Ticks must be attached for 24-48 hours before the bacteria can be transmitted, so prompt removal of ticks is extremely important. Anyone with a known tick bite or who has been in a tick habitat should watch for symptoms for at least 30 days after the exposure. If symptoms develop, call your physician.

Maine CDC has numerous educational materials available on our website at http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/boh/ddc/epi/vector-borne/lyme/index.shtml