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AR Department of Health confirms two cases of Lyme disease in Arkansas

The Arkansas Department of Health has determined that two cases of tickborne disease met the surveillance definition for Lyme disease. (MGN photo)

The Arkansas Department of Health has determined that two cases of tickborne disease met the surveillance definition for Lyme disease. This is the first time since 2007 that a case in Arkansas has met the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's surveillance definition.

In a press release, ADH stated that Arkansas is considered a low-incidence state for Lyme cases by the CDC. Arkansas is among the group of 31 states where the incidence of Lyme disease has been less than 1 in 100,000 persons from 2005-2014 and among 15 states where the incidence has been under one case per million persons in the same timeframe.

"Recognizing these two cases is consistent with Arkansas's designation as a low-incidence state for Lyme disease," said Dirk Haselow, State Epidemiologist at ADH. "We know that Lyme is rare here, and we encourage doctors and patients to consider other diagnoses first. However, we are committed to finding cases of Lyme when they do occur. If a test for Lyme is done, it is important for the testing to be done correctly to meet the case definition. Doctors and patients can learn about proper testing and reporting for suspected Lyme cases on our website."

ADH conducts a variety of activities to assess Lyme disease activity in Arkansas, including research partnerships with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, and the CDC.

People can protect themselves from tickborne disease by preventing tick bites. Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter, walk in the center of trails, and use repellents that contain 20-30% DEET to help avoid direct contact with ticks.

Arkansas reports a high number of cases of other tickborne diseases, including tularemia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Ehrlichia, all of which can be fatal. These diseases are more prevalent in Arkansas than in most other states.

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