Lyme Disease, Other Tickborne Disease Rates Are on the Rise

iStock

The incidence of tickborne infections in the United States has risen significantly in the past 10 years, and it’s crucial to develop a better understanding of these diseases, according to a report from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The report highlights the need for improved diagnostics and preventive vaccines.

Most U.S. tickborne illnesses in the are caused by bacteria, with Lyme disease accounting for 82 percent of infections. The increase in the number of infections is likely the result of several factors, including the growing tick population and their expanding geographical range. The tick primarily responsible for Lyme disease in the Northeast – Ixodes scapularis – was detected in 50 percent more counties in 2015 than in 1996.

Tickborne infections caused by viruses are also on the rise. Powassan virus (POWV), for example, causes fever and other symptoms, sometimes followed by progressive, severe neurologic problems, resulting in long-term symptoms in 70 percent of survivors and death in 10 to 15 percent of cases. While just 20 cases of POWV infection had been reported in the U.S. before 2006, 99 cases were reported between 2006 and 2016.

Sourced from: New England Journal of Medicine