Emergency Department Visits for Tick Bites - United States, January 2017-December 2019.
The incidence of tickborne diseases in the United States is increasing; reported cases more than doubled from >22,000 in 2004 to >48,000 in 2016 (1). Ticks are responsible for approximately 95% of all locally acquired vectorborne diseases reported by states and the District of Columbia, with Lyme disease accounting for >80% of those cases (2). After a tick bite, persons might seek care at an emergency department (ED) for tick removal and to receive postexposure prophylaxis, which has been shown to effectively prevent Lyme disease when taken within 72 hours of a high-risk bite (3). Using data from CDC's National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP), investigators examined ED tick bite visits during January 2017-December 2019 by sex, age group, U.S. region, and seasonality. During this 36-month period, 149,364 ED tick bite visits were identified. Mean cumulative incidence was 49 ED tick bite visits per 100,000 ED visits overall; incidence was highest in the Northeast (110 per 100,000 ED visits). The seasonal distribution of ED tick bite visits was bimodal: the larger peak occurred during the spring and early summer, and the smaller peak occurred in the fall. This pattern aligns with the seasonality of a known and abundant human-biter, the blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis (4). Compared with other age groups, pediatric patients aged 0-9 years accounted for the highest number and incidence of ED tick bite visits; incidence was higher among male patients than among females. Tick bites are not monitored by current surveillance systems because a tick bite is an event that in and of itself is not a reportable condition to health departments. Syndromic surveillance of ED tick bite visits can provide timely information that might predict temporal and geographic risk for exposure to tickborne diseases and guide actionable public health messaging such as avoiding tick habitats, wearing repellent consistently when outdoors, and performing regular tick checks during times of increased tick bite risk.
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