Who is affected by Lyme disease?

You can get Lyme disease in most places in the United States. In 2006, almost 20,000 cases were reported in the U.S. alone.1 Lyme disease is also frequently reported in Canada, Europe, and Asia.

You are at greatest risk of getting Lyme disease from a tick bite if you:

  • Live in areas within the U.S. that are heavily infested with ticks that carry Lyme disease, such as the Northeast, from Massachusetts to Virginia; the upper Midwest, especially Wisconsin and Minnesota; and the West coast, particularly northern California and parts of Oregon.
  • Are between the ages of 5 to 9 years or 45 to 54 years, perhaps due to greater exposure to infected ticks and less use of protective measures.2

The risk of Lyme disease is highest during the spring and summer (May through August), when ticks are most active and people spend more time outdoors.

Lyme disease is most common among young children and those who work or live in wooded areas, because they are more likely to spend time outdoors in tick-infested areas. But even in areas where Lyme disease occurs most often, very few tick bites lead to Lyme disease.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008). Table 2: Reported cases of notifiable diseases by geographic division and area section of Summary of Notifiable Diseases—United States, 2006. MMWR, 55(53): 22–32.
  2. American Academy of Pediatrics (2006). Lyme disease. In LK Pickering, ed., Red Book: 2006 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases, 27th ed., pp. 429–433. Elk Grove, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

Last Updated: September 3, 2008

Author: Maria G. Essig, MS, ELS

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Christine Hahn, MD - Epidemiology

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