Preliminary estimates released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Aug. 19 indicate that the number of Americans diagnosed with Lyme disease each year is around 300,000. The new estimate suggests that the total number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease is roughly 10 times higher than the yearly reported number.
Each year, more than 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to the CDC, making it the most commonly reported tick-borne illness in the United States. This new estimate supports studies published in the 1990s indicating that the true number of cases is between three- and 12-fold higher than the number of reported cases.
Stephen Wikel, senior associate dean for scholarship and chair of the department of medical sciences at the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University, is available to comment. Wikel is an expert in vector-borne diseases and has studied extensively in the area of tick saliva.
“While the true incidence of Lyme borreliosis is greater than might have been anticipated, it is important to have a more accurate assessment of the impact of this disease, and it highlights the need for accurate early diagnostic tests, education about how to reduce tick exposure, and the need for a highly effective vaccine,” said Wikel.
“If Lyme disease is this commonly diagnosed, what are the true incidences of the other infectious agents transmitted by the same tick that transmits Lyme disease? There is an increasing awareness of Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Borrelia miyamotoi and Powassan virus.”
To schedule an interview with Wikel, please call John Morgan, associate vice president for public relations, at 203-206-4449 (cell).