Lyme Disease in Ohio Continues to Increase

By: Sarah Short and Spencer Blankenship (OSU Biology Undergraduate)

As the 2019 season wraps up, reports indicate that occurrences of Lyme disease continue to increase in Ohio.  From 2009 to 2018, the number of cases has increased over 500%! (Figure 1)


Data from the Ohio Department of Health

Lyme has been expanding westward across Pennsylvania and occurrences in Ohio are primarily in the Eastern half of the state (Figure 2). 2019 reports indicate the worst year yet for Lyme, with 371 cases reported as of October 21st.


Data from the Ohio Department of Health 

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is most commonly contracted through a bite from a nymph (an immature tick), however, adult ticks can spread the disease as well. Nymphs are only about 2 millimeters in size, leaving many people unaware that they were bitten. The tick that spreads the disease, Ixodes scapularis (more commonly referred to as the blacklegged tick or deer tick) is increasing in number and expanding its range. It is important that Ohioans be aware of the situation and take steps to prevent infection. See the resources here for information on how to protect yourself outdoors.