Maine CDC Press Release

May 16, 2013

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month

AUGUSTA - Lyme disease is the second most commonly reported infectious disease in Maine, with over 1,100 cases reported in 2012.

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.

“Education and awareness about the prevention and early detection of Lyme disease is essential for protecting the health of the citizens of Maine,” said Dr. Sheila Pinette, Director of Maine CDC.

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 3-30 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 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:

  • Wear protective clothing
  • Use insect repellent
  • Perform daily tick checks
  • Use caution in tick habitats

“This year’s theme of Target Lyme is spot-on because it increases awareness of ways to prevent tick bites and increases awareness about the early symptoms. It’s important to reinforce the message that Lyme disease is preventable and treatable,’’ said Dr. Stephen Sears, State Epidemiologist.

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