New Lyme disease estimate: 300,000 cases a year

This is a March 2002 file photo of a deer tick under a microscope in the entomology lab at the University of Rhode Island in South Kingstown, R.I. Lyme disease is about 10 times more common than previously reported, health officials said Monday, Aug. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/ Victoria Arocho, File)
This is a March 2002 file photo of a deer tick under a microscope in the entomology lab at the University of Rhode Island in South Kingstown, R.I. Lyme disease is about 10 times more common than previously reported, health officials said Monday, Aug. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/ Victoria Arocho, File)

ATLANTA (AP) – Lyme disease is about 10 times more common than previously reported, health officials said Monday.

As many as 300,000 Americans are actually diagnosed with Lyme disease each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced.

Usually, only 20,000 to 30,000 illnesses are reported each year. For many years, CDC officials have known that many doctors don’t report every case and that the true count was probably much higher.

The new figure is the CDC’s most comprehensive attempt at a better estimate. The number comes from a survey of seven national laboratories, a national patient survey and a review of insurance information.

“It’s giving us a fuller picture and it’s not a pleasing one,” said Dr. Paul Mead, who oversees the agency’s tracking of Lyme disease.

The ailment is named after Lyme, Conn., where the illness was first identified in 1975. It’s a bacteria transmitted through the bites of infected deer ticks, which can be about the size of a poppy seed.

Symptoms include a fever, headache and fatigue and sometimes a telltale rash that looks like a bull’s-eye centered on the tick bite. Most people recover with antibiotics. If left untreated, the infection can cause arthritis and more severe problems.

In the U.S., the majority of Lyme disease reports have come from 13 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The new study did not find anything to suggest the disease is more geographically widespread, Mead said.

___

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s