Blacklegged ticks, which can carry bacteria that causes Lyme Disease, start to become active in the spring, which is why April is recognized as Prevent Lyme Disease in Dogs Month, and May is recognized as National Lyme Disease Awareness Month for people.
Blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks, can attach to both dogs and humans. An infected tick can transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease to a pet or human with a single bite, provided the tick feeds for at least 24 hours on its host – one of the reasons why prevention and early detection are critical.
The Special Reports Team at Veterinarians.org analyzed four years of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine what states across the nation have traditionally seen the most confirmed cases of Lyme Disease in people – and New Jersey has it one of the worst.
According to the study, New Jersey had 12,237 confirmed cases of Lyme Disease between 2016 and 2019, making it the second-hardest hit state in the country, behind only Pennsylvania, which had a stunning 32,921 confirmed cases in the same period.
New York didn’t fare much better; it ranked #3 on the list with 11,418 cases of Lyme Disease.
Why are ticks so prevalent in this region? Because these states have a large population of white-tailed deer, which are the primary hosts of adult blacklegged ticks. This has led to a high density of blacklegged ticks in the region. Unfortunately, blacklegged ticks are the primary carrier of the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease.
The climate and environment of these states also play a role in the prevalence of Lyme Disease. These states have mild winters and warm summers, which provide ideal conditions for ticks to thrive and reproduce. These states are also abundant in wooded and grassy areas, where ticks are commonly found.
Furthermore, the high population density in these states increases the likelihood of human exposure to infected ticks.