Maine CDC Press Release

May 24, 2012

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month

AUGUSTA - Lyme disease is the second most commonly reported infectious disease in Maine, with over 1,000 cases reported in 2011.

That is why the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) is proud to join Governor Paul LePage who has officially proclaimed May as Lyme Disease Awareness Month.

“Lyme disease is a growing concern in Maine” says Dr. Sheila Pinette, Director of Maine CDC “and that is why awareness and education is so important.”

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. Lyme disease is most common among school age children and middle age adults. As the weather continues to get warmer, more ticks will be out in the open, and 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 to 30 days after being bitten. Fever, joint and muscle pains may also occur. Lyme disease is treatable, and the majority of patients recover after receiving appropriate therapy.
Lyme disease was first clearly described in Connecticut in 1975, but it had likely been in the United States much longer. It was first identified in Maine in 1987. 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

Governor LePage’s proclamation reads:

Whereas the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2011, more than 1,000 cases of Lyme Disease have been reported; and

Whereas, the actual incidence of Lyme Disease is far more than reported; and

Whereas, public awareness and education are necessary to educate and promote awareness of Lyme Disease and other tick-borne illnesses; and

Whereas the 124th Maine Legislature enacted Public Law Chapter 494, LD 1709, Item 1, An Act to Enhance Public Awareness of Lyme Disease.

Now, therefore, I, Paul R. LePage, Governor of the State of Maine do hereby proclaim the month of May as Lyme Disease Awareness Month throughout the State of Maine and urge the public to become aware of the steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of tick-borne illnesses.