Lyme Disease Much More Common Than Previously Thought, Study Shows

With ticks spreading out across the country, the CDC says there may be nearly half a million cases of Lyme every year
A silhouette of a tick close up.

Between 2010 and 2018, the U.S. had approximately 476,000 cases of Lyme disease every year, according to a study out today from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

That number is substantially higher than the CDC’s previous estimates, of about 300,000 annual Lyme cases, which was based on research from 2010 and earlier that looked at insurance claims and lab test results. The new study used more current information from a large database of commercial insurance claims. 

Despite the large jump, study author Kiersten Kugeler, Ph.D., an epidemiologist with the CDC’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, says the growing number of Lyme disease cases isn’t surprising.  (See link for article)



A few points:

  1. Medical providers use codes for insurance purposes.  If an exact code isn’t used, the patient falls through the cracks.  This has been happening to Lyme/MSIDS patients for over 40 years. Please see:  This 2017 article shows Lyme/MSIDS patients have been denied care and insurance coverage because of a lack of codes.  Later in 2017 we see the 1st official report on these code violations:  In 2019 we see improvement in the codes:  The recognition of Lyme/MSIDS codes is relatively new and certainly not perfect or inclusive.  There must be an exact code to correspond to the symptom or it doesn’t exist in the eyes of mainstream medicine and insurance companies.  Also, tick-borne illness includes far more than just Lyme disease and many of these diseases aren’t reportable to the CDC and probably lack codes as well.  I guarantee you they are STILL missing many, many cases that are falling through the cracks due to a lack of coding.
  2. The article makes a blatant falsehood by stating the “target -shaped” rash may not appear in 20-30% of cases.  Nope.  Hardly anyone I work with has the rash (including myself and my husband) and research shows those getting the EM rash vary widely.  Please see:  The actual number varies anywhere from 25-80%.  Hardly a sure thing!
  3. The article states that doctors are likely to err on the side of treating Lyme if they suspect it.  I don’t know what world these people live in but they certainly don’t live in mine.  I have patients calling me to announce they have tested positive THREE times and were still denied diagnosis and treatment!  Doctors are afraid to treat people for tick-borne infections.  The CDC/IDSA has made it perfectly clear for over 40 years that they will come after doctors who treat this.  What doctor wants to be investigated by the state medical board, have someone go through all their charts with a fine-toothed comb, be possibly fined (they will find something), be required to have medical oversight and even education, and possibly be sanctioned and even lose their license?  Yet, the word is out and every doctor knows this is what happens.  Please see:  This particular witch hunt drug on from 2006 – 2020 and caused untold stress on one of the best Lyme doctors we have, and he’s far from alone!
  4. The Tufts faculty member (Dr. Hu) states cases vary from year to year based on tick density, weather patterns, and more.  We need to drop this verbiage like a bad habit.  Ticks laugh at weather and are nearly impervious to it.  They seek out leaf litter and snow when conditions become harsh.  About the only thing that kills them is fire.  I know people pulling live ticks off their dogs in the middle of winter (with snow on the ground) in the most Northern parts of Wisconsin.  The mythology must stop.

For more on tick prevention:

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