The number of new cases of Lyme disease in Maine has increased dramatically over the past two decades. Lyme disease became Maine’s second-most reported infectious disease in 2013, putting all residents and visitors at risk for the disease.
Raising public awareness of Lyme disease and promoting its prevention can reduce the number of Lyme disease cases. Early detection can reduce the longer-term health effects that come from this disease.
Meeting the Need for Information about Lyme Disease
Residents and local government leaders often requested that the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide Lyme disease case information specific to their county. Staff from Maine CDC's Division of Infectious Disease had been responding to these requests one at a time.
In an effort to respond to requests more efficiently, the Division of Infectious Disease and the Environmental Public Health Tracking Program worked collaboratively using funding from the Maine CDC's Public Health Infrastructure Grant to include Lyme disease data on the Maine Tracking Network's online data portal. The Maine CDC has since then widely publicized the availability of the Lyme disease data to the public, health professionals, media, and local officials.
Maine Communities Are Better Protected
Now, anyone can access information and data about Lyme disease directly without the wait for a Maine CDC response. Lyme disease is the most frequently visited topic on the data portal since the Maine Tracking Network’s launch, showing the value of this information.
Local students use the data to help complete Lyme disease related projects, and the press uses the data when writing articles. Mainelyticks.com, a tick management website calls the Lyme disease data and information on the Maine tracking network an “Excellent resource for tables, charts, trend charts, maps and more…..[A] Valuable resource for Maine Residents!”
Plans are being made to expand the Maine Tracking Network to include data about deer ticks, the Lyme disease vector, to complement the data on human cases of Lyme disease. Because the deer tick range and spread closely matches the range and spread of Lyme disease, presenting these data together will provide local public health practitioners, municipalities, media, and others with a powerful tool to inform disease prevention and tick control strategies.