Perusing a Lyme Disease map isn’t an idea that would occur to most people before heading out on vacation, but such maps do exist, thank goodness — and they’re invaluable planning tools. Even better, they’re easy to find online, including maps that allow you to drill down to individual states and provinces.

Path in woods green grass and trees

Check out a Lyme Disease Map before your next vacation

Proceed With Caution

The key here, of course, is to filter the results carefully, as you would anything you found on the Internet. For example: the American Lyme Disease Foundation based their map on the natural range of Ixodes scapularis and I. pacificus ticks, so there’s a big safe zone across most of the Midwest.

This makes sense: how can you get Lyme Disease if you don’t go where the carriers live? Unfortunately, Lyme Disease cases occur in those states anyway, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Here’s a U.S. map based on Lyme Disease reports from 1990-2008, revealing that they do occur in all 50 states.

Now, it’s hard to say whether patients are bringing in the disease itself from elsewhere, or accidentally bringing in the ticks — or if all the carriers simply haven’t been identified yet.

And Then There’s This…

Dogs get Lyme Disease too, which is a point that doesn’t come up often in our discussions, since we focus on the human variety. However, you may want to take a good look at this map if you’re taking Rex and Rover on vacation with you.

This map covers all the basic canine tick-borne diseases, including Lyme, for both the U.S. and Canada from 2001 to December 2009. Note that there’s not a single state or province that lacks canine Lyme Disease cases. In some areas considered safe for humans, like Colorado, the incidence is actually very high.

This map is especially useful because you can drill down to the U.S. county or Canadian division level.

Nearly all cases of human Lyme Disease derive from infected deer ticks. However, it may be possible to contract it from an infected dog tick, too, though the experts don’t agree on this yet. Nor do they entirely agree that the Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum) isn’t a carrier, though it doesn’t appear to be.

In any case, don’t assume you won’t get Lyme Disease just because a state or province doesn’t support I. scapularis and I. pacificus populations. Your chances of catching it are much less if that’s the case, but still not zero.

Finals Warnings

If, on the other hand, your map indicates that ticks that carry or even might carry Lyme are present in your vacation area, you should take the appropriate precaution when venturing outdoors, especially when going into the woods or high vegetation.

This includes wearing clothing that completely covers the body. It should be light in color, so you can see if any ticks are crawling on you. Also, apply an insecticide that works against Lyme ticks. It should say so on the package; don’t just assume that it does, because many brands don’t.

All in all, be careful. Even if you discover that Lyme Disease cases are rare in the area you’re planning to go, don’t assume that they never occur. A Lyme Disease map is an excellent tool — but like so many such tools, it doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story.