Lyme disease is an illness caused by a spirochete bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transmitted to animals and man through the bite of infected ticks.

The disease is reported worldwide and throughout the United States. The states of New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey account for the majority of cases in the United States. However, cases are reported from all geographic regions of the country. Different ticks are carriers in the different regions. Ixodes dammini (the deer tick) in the Northeast and midwest, Ixodes scapularis (the black-legged tick) in the South, Ixodes pacificus (the western black-legged tick) in the West and Amblyomma americanum (the lone star tick) found in several regions are all considered vectors. The is growing concern that Dermacentor variabilis (the American dog tick) may also be capable of transmitting the disease. Transmission by biting insects (flies, fleas, mosquitos) is speculated but appears to be quite rare.

Not all ticks are infected. Infection rates in tick populations vary by tick species and geographic region from as few as two percent to 90 percent or more.

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