More Lyme disease -- a lot more

cdc national lyme disease map animation 2001-2011

Reported cases, year by year, from 2001-2011. Maps: CDC.

This is sobering: The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had reported that the national number of Lyme disease cases had been about 30,000 per year over the last few years. But this week it reported that preliminary estimates based on new research indicate the number is around 300,000.

So... that's a lot more.

From the CDC press release:

This early estimate is based on findings from three ongoing CDC studies that use different methods, but all aim to define the approximate number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease each year. The first project analyzes medical claims information for approximately 22 million insured people annually for six years, the second project is based on a survey of clinical laboratories and the third project analyzes self-reported Lyme disease cases from a survey of the general public.
Each year, more than 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to CDC, making it the most commonly reported tick-borne illness in the United States. The new estimate suggests that the total number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease is roughly 10 times higher than the yearly reported number. This new estimate supports studies published in the 1990s indicating that the true number of cases is between 3- and 12-fold higher than the number of reported cases.

CDC says the three studies are still ongoing and it continues to analyze the data to "refine the estimates and better understand the overall burden of Lyme disease in the United States."

In 2011, the latest year for which the numbers are online, New York State had 3118 confirmed cases of Lyme (and 1372 more "probable" cases), according to the CDC. That amounted to 16 confirmed cases per 100,000 people -- the 12th highest rate in the nation. If the actual number of cases is something like 10x that reported count, New York is looking at a rate of 160 cases per 100,000 people.*

Over the last 10 years, Lyme has continued to spread from coastal areas of the East, establishing itself firmly in the Hudson Valley into eastern upstate New York. Chris Gibson has called Columbia County "ground zero" for Lyme disease, and made it one of his focus issues in Congress -- he's been pushing for more funding and attention for research.

In that CDC press release, Dr. Lyle R. Petersen -- the head of the CDC's division for diseases that are transmitted via mosquitoes, ticks and fleas -- called for a new approach to combatting the Lyme problem: "We need to move to a broader approach to tick reduction, involving entire communities, to combat this public health problem." He touched on this idea recently on the NYT website.

* Because, you know, x10. But that's very speculative because it's based on the CDC's preliminary national total. The new New York's count might not necessarily have the same multiple.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Ask AOA: A good doctor to treat Lyme disease?
+ The spread of Lyme disease

Comments

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the CDC is going to "refine the estimates" the number of cases same way the Bureau of Labor Statistics "refines the estimates" of unemployment. Lyme disease is a major health issue in this country that is only just beginning to get the long-overdue attention it deserves.

We could also be much higher in that we are the nearest high population to where the disease apparently began. The vectors for transmitting are mice as well as deer which populate all urban areas, notice in the south where ticks have been a historical long term nuisance pest the rates are very low, suggesting that government experimental animal research escaped from it's Plum island facility and should think about what a mess playing with mother nature can do to people.

Even so, I still don't trust those numbers, either. The CDC now has a rather long history of destroying careers of doctors treating Lyme patients who have complicated or long-term symptoms and refuses to accept updated research findings on all sorts of things related to Lyme, including how a tick does NOT have to be on you a minimum of 24 hours to transit Lyme and how the two tests commonly used by doctors are absolutely useless (and very costly for the patient) for detecting whether someone has Lyme.

Anybody looking for legit info on Lyme Disease is MUCH better off visiting http://www.ilads.org/ and http://lymedisease.org/

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