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.
We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.