CHICAGO (WLS) -- A new report shows Lyme disease, an infection easy to catch when spending time outdoors, is spreading among Americans.
Ticks are tiny, black and difficult to spot and though they may go undetected in your backyard a new report reveals the ticks that carry Lyme may be much more widespread than previously thought.
Researchers analyzed county-level tick surveillance data across the country and found that the major tick species carrying Lyme disease on the East and West coasts have now been identified in nearly half the counties in the United States.
The finding is a nearly 45 percent increase in the number of counties that have recorded the presence of those ticks since the last mapping in 1998.
On the East Coast, the number of counties with the tick species has more than doubled since the national distribution was mapped 20 years ago.
Researchers say that just because the ticks have not been identified until now doesn't mean they weren't there all along.
To protect against Lyme, wear protective clothes and bug spray in the wilderness. See a doctor if you have a bullseye rash or flu-like symptoms, which can indicate Lyme infection. With proper precautions, all Americans can stay out of the woods when it comes to Lyme disease.
Report shows Lyme disease is spreading among Americans