Ticks are ever present during North Carolina summers, and they bring with them the risk of tick-borne illnesses. Many of us have known since childhood to be on alert for symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, but fewer of us in this state have been aware that Lyme disease is a real threat.
For years, public health officials assumed that Lyme disease is a New England and mid-western illness that those of us outside the Northeast don't have to worry about. However, statistics show that the risk has started to move South and, perhaps, has been here for a while. Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector borne illness in the United States: in 2012, it was the 7th most common Nationally Notifiable disease.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) map indicates reported cases of Lyme Disease throughout North Carolina in every year of the last decade. And, the North Carolina Public Health department reports that last year, there were 173 (39 confirmed and 134 probable) incidences of Lyme disease in our state. The number for the past five years combined is 601. Four North Carolina counties Guilford, Alleghany, Haywood, and Wake—are considered endemic for Lyme disease (this means a county has two or more diagnoses of Lyme disease originating from ticks within the county).