Bloomberg News

Lyme Disease Cases Are 10 Times Higher Than Reported, CDC Says

August 19, 2013

Lyme Disease Cases Are 10 Times Higher Than Reported, CDC Says

Lyme disease is concentrated in the U.S. Northeast and upper Midwest, with 96 percent of cases in 13 states, the Centers for Disease Control said. About 300,000 people are diagnosed with the disease transmitted through tick bites each year. Photographer: Petr Topic/isifa via Getty Images

About 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease transmitted through tick bites each year, 10 times higher than cases reported to the U.S. government.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is analyzing medical claims data for 22 million insured people and surveying labs and the general public to better understand the burden of Lyme disease. Only about 30,000 cases are reported to the agency each year, the CDC said in a statement today.

Lyme disease is concentrated in the U.S. Northeast and upper Midwest, with 96 percent of cases in 13 states, the CDC said. Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and a “bull’s-eye” rash. The early CDC estimate supports studies published in the 1990s indicating the true number of cases of Lyme disease is three to 12 times higher than what is officially reported, the agency said.

“We know that routine surveillance only gives us part of the picture, and that the true number of illnesses is much greater,” Paul Mead, chief of epidemiology and surveillance for CDC’s Lyme disease program, said in the statement. “This new preliminary estimate confirms that Lyme disease is a tremendous public health problem in the United States, and clearly highlights the urgent need for prevention.”

Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics, the CDC said on its website. The agency and other researchers are studying novel methods to kill ticks and prevent the illness in people.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anna Edney in Washington at aedney@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net


Coke's Big Fat Problem
LIMITED-TIME OFFER SUBSCRIBE NOW

(enter your email)
(enter up to 5 email addresses, separated by commas)

Max 250 characters

 
blog comments powered by Disqus