While most people are relatively unaware of the threat posed by Lyme disease, the United States is currently going through an epidemic, and the CDC is not giving us complete information on the situation. Awareness is the first step toward prevention, so it’s important to understand how serious Lyme disease can be.
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is an insect borne infectious illness transmitted by tick bites, which people are often exposed to while hiking or during another outdoor activity. While the majority of patients recover with the use of antibiotics, between 20% and 36% do not respond to treatment, which can lead to debilitating symptoms. It is therefore extremely important to improve our current methods of identifying and treating this condition.
Until recently, the CDC reported that Lyme disease is contracted by approximately 30,000 people each year, but that figure was significantly increased, and the agency now claims that there are 300,000 new cases annually. Outdated reporting methods were leading to deflated numbers, and we are now aware of the extent of the Lyme disease epidemic—new infections are occurring at a rate six times higher that of AIDS.
What the CDC Isn’t Telling Us
While you would expect a government agency to be extremely worried about a disease infecting up to 300,000 of its citizens every year, there has actually been very little attention paid to Lyme disease in recent years. In fact, there have only been four clinical trials to date focusing on the treatment of chronic Lyme disease.
And while the government neglects a significant issue that threatens a high percentage of its population, the private sector lacks an incentive to fund research and development, as Lyme disease is treated with generic antibiotics. That means that there is currently very little going on to improve the awareness, accurate diagnosis, or treatment options associated with Lyme disease.
Above all, one thing is clear: Lyme disease is more of a problem than we thought. While the CDC increased its figures for the disease tenfold, it has failed to provide enough accurate information to the public or adequately fund research and clinical trials. If you or someone you know is in an area with ticks, be aware for the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease, and don’t hesitate to seek medical assistance if you’re worried they may have contracted this very serious condition.