Which Of Idaho’s Counties Has the Highest Number of Lyme Disease Cases?
When the spring and summer months hit in the United States, the words “Lyme disease” and “ticks” go hand in hand in the media.
And we’re not just talking about programs like NBC Nightly News and ABC World News Tonight. You’ll often see Lyme Disease get discussed on entertainment news shows like ET or Hollywood Insider. That’s because there has been a significant number of celebrities that have contracted the bacterial tick-borne illness without it being properly diagnosed the first time.
Justin Beiber, Avril Lavigne, Shania Twain, Ben Stiller and Debbie Gibson have all been open about their experiences with the disease. They experienced a wide range of symptoms like fatigue, anxiety, depression, joint inflammation, dizzy spells, night sweats, chills, brain fog, nerve pain, and tremors…all symptoms that could be associated with any number of diseases. Many of them described the symptoms as debilitating and shared that it kept them from doing things they loved both for work and for relaxation.
While their advocacy has done a lot for people in similar positions who haven’t been properly diagnosed and treated, reading their stories can also make you terrified to enjoy the great outdoors. But should you let fear of Lyme Disease keep you from living an Idaho summer to the fullest? Here’s what you need to know.
Lyme Disease Cases in Idaho By County
There’s a website called TickCheck that has pulled the CDC’s number of reported Lyme Disease cases for every state in America from 2000-2020. That number for Idaho is 202, but because so many cases go undiagnosed or improperly diagnosed, TickCheck says the number is probably closer to 2,020. When you break that down by Idaho counties, these are the five counties with the highest number of reported cases in that 10-year period.
Blaine County - 18 Cases
Kootenai County - 18 Cases
Canyon County - 18 Cases
Idaho County - 19 Cases
Ada County - 28 Cases
The Good News About Lyme Disease in Idaho
When you look at ar ranking of incidence rates for Lyme Disease in the United States, Idaho is very, very low on the list. That’s because black-legged ticks, the ticks known to be carriers of Lyme, are not found in Idaho. They’re more common in the Northeast and Upper Midwest. (Debbie Gibson shared that that’s why she went undiagnosed for so long. Because Lyme is less common on the West Coast, her doctors never thought to test her for it.)
Lyme cases are reported by county of residence, not where the disease was contracted. That means it’s likely that the Idahoans that make up the numbers above contracted the disease while traveling outside of the Gem State.
The Bad News About Ticks in Idaho
Lyme Disease may not be a common tick-borne illness in Idaho, but Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is. In fact, the tick-borne disease which causes fever, headache, rash, nausea/vomiting, muscle pain and a lack of appetite, was first discovered in the Snake River Valley in the late 1800s. The CDC calls it one of the deadliest tickborne diseases in America. It can be successfully treated with an antibiotic if caught early. Those who have severe cases may need to have their arms, legs, fingers or toes amputated, experience hearing loss, paralysis or mental disability.
That’s why it’s STILL a good idea to check yourself, your kids and your pets for ticks after spending time outdoors. Idaho Health and Welfare explains that an insect repellant approved by the EPA can be helpful in keeping ticks away. Should you find that one hitched a ride, the CDC has a helpful guide to show you the best way to remove a tick from skin HERE.