Lyme disease is on the rise in parts of the US, according to insurance data
Recently released data show that the number of cases of Lyme disease in the US is on the rise. The study found that tick-borne disease-related private insurance claims have increased significantly since 2007, including more recently in the last five years. This relative increase was especially significant in rural areas.
The study comes from FAIR Health, an independent non-profit organization that formed in 2009 as part of a settlement between New York State and local health insurers over allegedly fraudulent payments for out-of-network payments. Since then, in collaboration with health policy researchers, FAIR has been collecting and regularly analyzing massive amounts of private insurance claims data, which they say is the largest database of its kind in the US.
For this new report, the researchers tracked down claims that mentioned a diagnosis of Lyme disease dating back to 2007. Between 2007 and 2021, they found that the number of applications received from people living in cities and other urban areas increased by 65%, and from people by 357%. in the countryside. The report is also an update to an analysis by FAIR in 2017, and Lyme disease diagnoses have also continued to rise since then. Between 2016 and 2021, the number of applications from urban areas increased by 19%, and from rural areas by 60%. The accompanying infographic can be seen here.
“General diagnoses are more common in urban areas because the population is larger in urban areas. However, our data show that the number of Lyme disease diagnoses in rural areas is growing faster.” —Thomas Swift, p.chief oacting aboutFAIR Health Officer, Gizmodo said in an email.
The latest findings are consistent with Another research work indicating that Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases are becoming more common over time. Based on their own analysis of commercial insurance data, for example, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently rated that more than 450,000 Americans are now diagnosed and treated for Lyme each year, more than 10 times the number of reported cases and more than the 300,000 annual cases previously estimated by the CDC.
The FAIR data also shows that people outside of areas where Lyme disease is known to be endemic are more likely to encounter these ticks carrying the disease for at least a few years. In 2017, for example, claims from North Carolina grew substantially, with the state ranking third in the proportion of Lyme disease claims across all diagnoses that year. By 2021, North Carolina was no longer in the top five, but Maine edged it out to third on the list — the latter state had never previously been in the top five. five. In both 2017 and 2021, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Vermont were the other four states with the highest proportion of Lyme disease diagnoses.
Lyme disease is caused by some Borrelia bacteria (usually B. burgdorferi), and in most cases can be easily treated with antibiotics, especially if detected early. But a small percentage of people report lingering post-infection symptoms, which are known as Lyme disease syndrome after treatment. There is no hard evidence that these symptoms are caused by an ongoing infection from bacteria—a theory promoted by proponents of “chronic Lyme”—but they may be related to immune dysfunction after infection. People whose infection is not diagnosed and treated early can also develop more serious complications that may persist even after treatment, such as nerve pain and muscle weakness.
Interestingly, other FAIR results confirm an increased risk of long-term illness among people with Lyme disease. Using their data, they compared treatment outcomes for Lyme patients with the general population and found that they were more likely to subsequently be diagnosed with fatigue, malaise and other health problems, which is seen across all age groups.
Efforts are ongoing to develop an effective Lyme vaccine. But as climate change continues largely unchecked, experts expect that Lyme and other diseases associated with ticksdiseases will be an ever-growing thorn in our side, which doctors and researchers will have to watch closely.
“The current pandemic has brought clinical attention to COVID-19.-19, but other diseases remain public health issues worthy of attention. FAIR Health data shows that Lyme disease has not gone away, but is on the rise.Swift said.