The CDC reported on August 19, 2013 that preliminary estimates indicate that the number of Americans diagnosed with Lyme disease each year is around 300,000, based on findings from three ongoing CDC studies that use different methods. The first study analyzes medical claims information for approximately 22 million insured people annually for six years, the second study is based on a survey of clinical laboratories, and the third study analyzes self-reported Lyme disease cases from a survey of the general public.
The new preliminary estimate was presented on August 18, 2013 at the International Conference on Lyme Borreliosis and other Tick Borne Diseases (ICLB) being held in Boston.
More than 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to the CDC each year (the most commonly reported tick-borne illness in the United States). The new estimate indicates that the total number of Americans diagnosed with Lyme disease is about 10 times higher than the yearly reported number, which supports studies published in the 1990s indicating that the true number of cases is between 3-fold and 12-fold higher than the number of reported cases. Most Lyme disease cases reported to the CDC are concentrated heavily in the Northeast and upper Midwest of the United States, with 96% of Lyme disease cases reported in 13 states.
The CDC is beginning to focus on a community approach towards Lyme disease prevention: “We know that routine surveillance only gives us part of the picture, and that the true number of illnesses is much greater. 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. …. We know people can prevent tick bites through steps like using repellents and tick checks. Although these measures are effective, they aren’t fail-proof and people don’t always use them. We need to move to a broader approach to tick reduction, involving entire communities, to combat this public health problem.”
The CDC’s community approach would involve homeowners making efforts to kill ticks in their own yards and communities addressing a variety of issues, including rodents that carry the Lyme disease bacteria, deer that play a key role in the ticks’ lifecycle, suburban planning, and the interaction between deer, rodents, ticks, and humans.
The CDC warns that typical symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.
The CDC currently recommends the following steps to help prevent Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases: wear repellent; check for ticks daily; shower soon after being outdoors; and, call your doctor if you get a fever or rash.
If you, a family member, or a loved one have been misdiagnosed with Lyme disease (failure to diagnose Lyme disease, failure to treat Lyme disease, late diagnosis of Lyme disease, or late treatment of Lyme disease), you should promptly contact a local medical malpractice lawyer in your U.S. state who is Lyme-literate to schedule a consultation.
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