The Montana Infectious Disease Network is a strategic statewide collaborative and its membership includes the Infectious Disease physicians currently practicing in Montana. As Infectious Disease physicians, summer is the time in which we are most often approached regarding tick-borne diseases. While tick bites are usually harmless, sometimes bites can cause serious ailments. Ailments such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Tularemia, while rare, can be acquired in Montana. While reported relatively frequently, Lyme disease is a different matter.
Lyme disease is spread through the bite of infected black-legged (or deer) ticks, and is frequently characterized by a “bull’s-eye” rash called erythema migrans. Along with being mindful of the transmission routes and signs and symptoms of the disease, informing your health care provider of your recent travel history can help with an accurate diagnosis. In the United States, most infections occur in endemic areas: California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and from northeastern Virginia to Maine. In 2011, 96 percent of Lyme disease cases were reported from those states.
Fortunately for Montana, there is no evidence of endemic Lyme disease or Lyme-related ticks in our state. From 2003-2012, only 49 cases of Lyme disease were reported in Montana and all of the confirmed cases occurred in persons with a history of travel to areas with endemic Lyme disease. It is essential when seeking care for a potential tick-borne ailment that you and your physician are aware that Lyme disease is not known to occur in Montana.