Harsh winter does little to ease Lyme disease woes

PATRICK WHITTLE
Associated Press

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Health officials in the northern U.S. say the long, cold winter did nothing to reduce the thriving tick population, and they are primed for an increase in the number of Lyme disease cases again this year.

Last year, Lyme disease cases reached 1,376 in Maine, the highest number since the state started tracking data in the mid-1990s. State epidemiologist Stephen Sears says the increase is in lockstep with the growing population of deer ticks that transmit the disease.

The number of Lyme disease cases nationwide has held relatively steady over the past few years but has grown in northern New England. Advocacy groups and federal agencies say they expect this spring, summer and fall to be active seasons for ticks and Lyme disease in many parts of the country.

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