The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says 300,000 cases of Lyme disease are diagnosed in the United States each year. That's roughly 10 times more cases than are generally reported to the CDC through routine surveillance. It also makes Lyme disease the most common tick-borne illness in the U.S.
The CDC says this new estimate confirms that Lyme disease is a tremendous public health problem in the United States and clearly highlights an urgent need for prevention.
Mayo Clinic infectious disease expert Abinash Virk, M.D., says a few basic precautions will reduce the chances of contracting not just Lyme, but all tick-borne diseases. Dr. Virk's top tick-bite prevention tips are:
Use a suitable insect repellent.
Check yourself, children and pets after being outdoors.
To reduce your risk on hikes, stay on trails. If you leave the path, wear long pants tucked into your socks.
If you find ticks, remove them right away. Use force and pinch the tick near its mouth parts, pulling the tick out slowly in a continuous motion. Don’t twist it, which may leave mouth parts embedded in the skin.
Keep grass short in yards and avoid ungroomed areas.
Journalists: Sound bites with Dr. Abinash (AH-bih- nosh) Virk (Verk), and b-roll of ticks in the Mayo Clinic parasitology lab are available in the downloads.