ATLANTA -- Reported cases of Lyme disease, the tick-borne illness that can cause fatigue, sore joints and heart damage, climbed to a record high in 2000, the government reported Thursday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it recorded 17,730 cases, up 8 percent from 1999. The disease was found in 44 states and the District of Columbia, with six states Lyme-free.
Lyme cases nearly doubled in the 1990s, in part because more Americans built homes in the woods, exposing themselves to ticks, according to the CDC.
The disease causes fatigue, fever and joint pain that can persist for weeks, and some patients develop severe arthritis. Lyme disease also can badly damage the heart and nervous system if it goes untreated by antibiotics.
Daily tick checks, vaccinations and insect repellent are recommended as preventive measures.
In 2000, 95 percent of Lyme cases reported to CDC came from just 12 states, almost all of them in the Northeast.
On the Net:
CDC Lyme disease page: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/lyme