The newly released data is the latest to show that the number of Lyme disease cases in the US is on the rise. The study found that private insurance premiums for tick-borne illness have increased significantly since 2007, including over the past five years. This relative growth was especially noticeable in rural areas.
The study comes from independent nonprofit organization FAIR Health created As part of a 2009 settlement between New York State and local health insurers over fraudulent out-of-network payments. Since then, in collaboration with health policy researchers, the organization collects and regularly compiles data on individual insurance claims, which they say is the largest database in the United States.
For this new report, researchers tracked claims diagnosed with Lyme disease since 2007. They found that between 2007 and 2021, complaints from people living in cities and other cities increased by 65%, and from people by 357%. in rural areas. The report is also an update of an analysis conducted by FAIR Health 2017, and Lyme disease diagnoses have been on the rise ever since. Between 2016 and 2021, claims received in urban areas increased by 19% and in rural areas by 60%. The accompanying infographic can be viewed here.
“The general diagnosis is more common in urban areas because of the large population in cities. However, our data show that Lyme disease diagnoses are increasing rapidly in rural areas,” said Thomas Swift, chief operating officer of FAIR Health, in an email to Gizmodo.
The newest findings agree apart from the research It shows that Lyme and other tick-borne diseases have become more common over time. Based on their own analysis of commercial insurance data, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, recently predicted More than 450,000 Americans are diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease each year, 10 times the number of reported cases and higher than the 300,000 annual cases previously estimated by the CDC.
SAIR Health’s data also suggest that people outside of areas where Lyme is known to be endemic are more likely to encounter ticks that carry the disease, at least in some years. For example, in 2017, claims in North Carolina rose significantly, with the state having the third highest share of Lyme-related claims against all diagnoses that year. By 2021, North Carolina had dropped out of the top five, but Maine replaced it as third on the list — the latter state having never been in the top five before. New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont were the four other states with the highest proportion of Lyme-related diagnoses in 2017 and 2021.
Lyme disease occurs for a number of reasons borrelia bacteria (usually B. burgdorferi) and most cases can be treated with antibiotics, especially if caught early. However, a small percentage of people report long-lasting symptoms after infection post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome. There is with strong evidence these symptoms are caused by ongoing infection from the bacteria—a theory supported by proponents of “chronic Lyme,” but it may also be related to post-infection immune dysfunction. People whose infections are not caught early and treated may have serious complications that may persist after treatment, such as nerve pain and muscle weakness.
Interestingly, NEWS Healthother findings support an increased risk of long-term disease among Lyme patients. Using their data, they compared the results of Lyme patients to the general population and found that they were more likely to be diagnosed with fatigue, weakness and other health problems later.
Efforts are underway to develop an effective vaccine against Lyme disease. However, climate change continues largely unabated, experts say to expect Lyme and other tick-related diseases present a growing thorn in our side—one that doctors and researchers must keep an eye on.
“The current pandemic has focused clinical attention on covid-19, but other diseases remain public health concerns. “FAIR Health data shows that Lyme disease is not going away, it’s on the rise,” Swift said.