CDC: Why Is Lyme Disease Activity So Much Higher Than Predicted?

Alice G. Walton | Forbes | August 20, 2013

Sunday night’s conference on Lyme and other tick-borne diseases released some new data from the CDC on the number of people affected each year by Lyme disease. Namely, it pointed to a major difference in the recorded number of people affected by the disease and the actual number: Upwards of 300,000 people appear to contract the disease annually, which is about 10 times what’s typically reported to the CDC. There’s always some difference in the recorded and actual numbers of a given disease, but this one is a lot bigger than we thought. Still, the new report is helpful in understanding the reality of how the disease works. Catching the disease early on is one key to treating it successfully. Reducing the raw numbers of people affected by the disease will take some comprehensive and collaborative efforts.

The new data were revealed at the 2013 International Conference on Lyme Borreliosis and Other Tick-Borne Diseases, and were based on three CDC studies. One large-scale study used the insurance records of 22 million Americans over six years to estimate Lyme disease numbers. Another study surveyed clinical labs, and the third used self-reports from a sample of Americans. All three studies together suggested what research from 20 years ago had, too – that actual number of Lyme disease cases occurring each year is somewhere between three and 12-fold higher than what’s typically reported.