Below you’ll find the facts about Lyme disease and information you need to know.
New CDC statistics: nearly half a million people diagnosed with Lyme disease annually
The CDC has announced that the number of people diagnosed each year with Lyme disease has climbed to nearly half a million, specifically 476,000, which is a jump of 59% over the 300,000 estimate previously listed on the CDC’s website. This is based on new research in two studies in the publication Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Public funding far below that of less common illnesses
Lyme is one of the fastest growing infectious diseases in the country and yet Lyme research is dramatically underfunded. It receives less than 2% of public funding for West Nile and 0.2% of funding for HIV/AIDS, despite the fact that the annual case count for Lyme dwarfs either disease. There are now nearly half a million new cases of Lyme disease annually in the US—this is more than HIV/Aids, West Nile virus and Malaria combined.
Over a million patients struggling with persistent Lyme disease
Research has shown that up to 20% of Lyme patients have symptoms post-treatment. Many clinicians and scientists believe that the persistence of bacteria is the cause of these lingering symptoms, so, while the CDC calls this “post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome,” many experts believe it is more accurate to use the term “persistent Lyme disease.” These studies demonstrate the existence of persistent infection, giving validity to this term.
Reported in all 50 US states and more than 65 countries worldwide
The disease which was first discovered in New England (Lyme, CT) has been expanding its footprint across the country with hot spots in the northern midwest and on the coast in California.
In California, infected ticks found in 42 of 58 counties
On the West Coast, the primary carrier is the Western blacklegged tick, or Ixodes pacificus, and its principal host the grey squirrel. (This differs from the East Coast where the Eastern Blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis, is the principal carrier and the white-footed mouse its primary host.). The Western blacklegged tick has been found in all but two California counties (56 in total) and infected ticks have been discovered in 42 counties.
Current diagnostics miss up to 60% of acute cases
The current “gold standard” diagnostic for Lyme disease is a two-tiered ELISA/Western Blot blood test measuring human antibodies against Borrelia burgdorferi. This diagnostic is an indirect measure of infection, detecting the body’s immunologic response to infection rather than detecting the Lyme bacteria itself. It misses up to 60% of cases of early-stage Lyme disease, as it can take weeks for the body to develop measurable antibodies against the infection.
Early treatment typically successful but many patients go undiagnosed for years
- Most never recall being bitten
- Less than half ever show the telltale bullseye rash
- As many as 20% continue to experience symptoms even after treatment