History of Lyme


In 1975, the first identified outbreak of the illness showed up as arthritic symptoms in a cluster of people near the rural town of Lyme, Connecticut, the eventual namesake of the tick-borne disease. Though Borrelia burgdorferi takes center stage when it comes to Lyme, current data suggests there are upwards of 20 Borrelia species that are agents of tick-borne diseases. In Europe, Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii are the two most prevalent species resulting in Lyme disease. 

Historically, Lyme has been found in ancient mummies in the Italian Alps. There is also literature from over 100 years ago in the Germany literature before WWI describing the disease. Prior to the first major outbreak, Dr. Michael Scrimenti, MD described the bulls eye rash in a journal article in 1971 in the upper Mid-West. However the outbreak in Lyme drew critical attention to the disease which has existed for a long time but was called by many other names such as Montauk Knee.

The highest incidences of Lyme are typically reported in the Northeast and Midwest regions. But more recent research indicates Lyme disease-carrying ticks are present in all 50 states and approximately half of all U.S. counties, making it the fastest-growing vector-borne disease in the country. With up to 476,000 new cases each year, Lyme disease is a mounting threat to public health.