The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention supports the official declaration of May as Lyme Disease Awareness Month.

“Lyme moved in to Maine in 1987 and has been increasing ever since,”said Dr. Stephen Sears, state epidemiologist, in a press release.

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

According to the press release, 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 release indicated the most common early symptom of Lyme disease is an expanding red rash that occurs at the site of the tick bite within three to 32 days after being bitten. Fever, join and muscle pains may also occur.

According to the press release, 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 reportedly must be attached 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, people should call their physician.

Maine CDC has numerous educational materials available at maine.gov/dhhs/boh/ddc/epi/vector-borne/lyme/index.shtml