The States with the Highest Rates of Lyme Disease

May is National Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Here's a look at the states with the highest rates of new Lyme disease cases.

Depending on where you live, the phrase “check yourself for ticks” could well be as synonymous with summer as “don’t forget your sunscreen!”

In northern states and wooded areas, the prevalence of ticks makes for an increased risk of contracting Lyme disease and other tick-borne conditions. The issue is receiving extra attention this month, as May has been designated as National Lyme Disease Awareness Month.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there were some 27,000 confirmed cases of Lyme disease nationwide in 2013, and another 9,000 suspected but unconfirmed cases. That breaks down to a rate of 8.6 confirmed cases per 100,000 Americans.

The risk of getting Lyme disease varies greatly by state and region. For instance, the CDC recorded no cases in Hawaii from 2004-2013, and only 1 case in Arkansas over the same time period. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania reported nearly 5,000 cases in 2013 alone. In fact, 95% of cases come from just 14 states, according to data from the office of US Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ).

Smith is calling of the creation of a Tick-Borne Diseases Advisory Committee to advise the Department of Health and Human Services on public health concerns such as Lyme disease. His bill has been introduced, but no action has yet been taken.

Meanwhile, advocates for Lyme disease awareness have been attempting to replicate the success of the “Ice Bucket Challenge” by asking celebrities and others to take part in the “Take a Bite Out of Lyme Disease Challenge.” As its name suggests, the challenge asks people to photograph or videotape themselves taking a bit out of a lime.

Below are the 11 states with the highest rates of Lyme disease confirmations in 2013, based on incidences per 100,000 people. Nearly all of the states are in the northeastern United States, and all but one are west of the Mississippi River.

11. Wisconsin

2013 Incidence: 25.2 cases per 100,000 people

2013 Confirmed Cases: 1,447

2013 Probable Cases: 425

2012 Cases: 1,368

10. Minnesota

2013 Incidence: 26.4 cases per 100,000 people

2013 Confirmed Cases: 1,431

2013 Probable Cases: 909

2012 Cases: 911

9. New Jersey

2013 Incidence: 31.3 cases per 100,000 people

2013 Confirmed Cases: 2,785

2013 Probable Cases: 981

2012 Cases: 2,732

8. Pennsylvania

2013 Incidence: 39.0 cases per 100,000 people

2013 Confirmed Cases: 4,981

2013 Probable Cases: 777

2012 Cases: 4,146

7. Rhode Island

2013 Incidence: 42.2 cases per 100,000 people

2013 Confirmed Cases: 444

2013 Probable Cases: 280

2012 Cases: 133

6. Delaware

2013 Incidence: 43.2 cases per 100,000 people

2013 Confirmed Cases: 400

2013 Probable Cases: 109

2012 Cases: 507

5. Massachusetts

2013 Incidence: 57.0 cases per 100,000 people

2013 Confirmed Cases: 3,816

2013 Probable Cases: 1,474

2012 Cases: 3,396

4. Connecticut

2013 Incidence: 58.7 cases per 100,000 people

2013 Confirmed Cases: 2,111

2013 Probable Cases: 814

2012 Cases: 1,653

3. Maine

2013 Incidence: 84.8 cases per 100,000 people

2013 Confirmed Cases: 1,127

2013 Probable Cases: 246

2012 Cases: 885

2. New Hampshire

2013 Incidence: 100.0 cases per 100,000 people

2013 Confirmed Cases: 1,324

2013 Probable Cases: 363

2012 Cases: 1,002

1. Vermont

2013 Incidence: 107.6 cases per 100,000 people

2013 Confirmed Cases: 674

2013 Probable Cases: 219

2012 Cases: 386