The athenahealth Lyme disease dashboard
By Janvi Nerurkar and Caroline Watson |
athenahealth is tracking the spread of Lyme disease across the United States using diagnoses from the athenahealth network. Use the interactive graphic below to focus on a state or single week. Check back weekly for updated data.
Lyme disease patterns are shifting
With COVID-19 vaccines widely available and the appetite for socially distant activities on the rise, many Americans have been looking to spend more time outdoors. But reports of deer ticks found in unexpected places — like California beaches and manicured lawns — have raised concerns about the spread of Lyme disease in a post-pandemic society. athenahealth is providing insight into when and where concentrations of Lyme disease exist within our nationwide network.
As has been the case in recent years, the Northeast has been hit the hardest so far in 2021. Within the first tab, you can see that Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts have seen the highest frequency of Lyme disease visits throughout the year.
The second tab reveals a few noteworthy changes in the last few years, however. When the COVID-19 pandemic began in spring 2020, the trend line starts to deviate from 2019. As more people stayed indoors than ever before, the number of Lyme disease visits dropped off.
Interestingly, Lyme disease visits make up a smaller share of total visits on the athenahealth network in the 2021 season than they did in 2020 or 2019. But at the beginning of the summer, the percentage of Lyme disease visits finally caught up with the same week in 2020. This was around the time many American adults were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. After more than a year of being extra cautious, it’s possible there has been an increased appetite for the type of outdoor activities — like hiking, camping, and exploring — that coincide with exposure to ticks.
How to read the dashboard
Using billing data from the athenahealth network, this dashboard reports on the percentage of visits on our network that included a diagnosis of Lyme disease. We chose this metric in order to adjust for potential fluctuations in visit volumes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The map on the first tab is broken down by state. Use the interactive graphic above to take a closer look at each U.S. state over the last 52 weeks. The second tab displays a bird’s-eye view of weekly trends from 2019 through YTD 2021. We’ll continue to update the dashboard as the season progresses.
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