Tick-Borne Diseases

Female tickAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne illness in the United States, with over 245,373 cases reported since 1990. New Jersey consistently reports the third or fourth-highest number of confirmed Lyme disease cases each year. Between 1981 (when Lyme disease became reportable in the state) and 2005, over 32,000 cases have been reported in New Jersey. During the past 5 years, New Jersey has averaged over 2,750 cases annually and in 2005, reported 3,363 Lyme disease cases, the highest number ever recorded in the state. Lyme disease is considered endemic in all 21 New Jersey counties.

Although the importance of Lyme disease cannot be overstated, other emerging tick-borne diseases also pose a significant public health threat. Over the past 5 years alone, New Jersey has reported 32 cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, 21 cases of human monocytic ehrlichiosis (HME), 24 cases of human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA), and 195 cases of human babesiosis. Recent studies in Monmouth County have shown vector ticks to be infected with the pathogens that cause Lyme disease (50.3%), HME (12.3%), HGA (6.1%), and human babesiosis (9.5%), and that a significant number of ticks are co-infected with 2 disease agents.

Graph showing seasonal distribution of Lyme disease cases and activity of the blacklegged tick