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Lyme Disease Rate 10 Times Higher Than Previously Thought

A new CDC report finds that Lyme disease is a major public health problem in the US.

The actual number of Americans diagnosed with Lyme disease each year is ten times higher than previously thought, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report.

Each year, only 30,000 cases of the tick-borne disease are reported to the CDC. However, based on preliminary estimates from three ongoing studies, the CDC says the actual number of Americans diagnosed with Lyme disease each year is actually about 300,000.

“This new preliminary estimate confirms that Lyme disease is a tremendous public health problem in the United States, and clearly highlights the urgent need for prevention,” says Dr. Paul Mead, chief of epidemiology and surveillance for CDC’s Lyme disease program.

Washington in particular has one of the highest rates in the US of contracting Lyme disease. The disease is most prevalent in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and upper Midwest, with 96 percent of cases in 13 states, according to the CDC.

Lyme disease has become a major public health problem in recent years, and its standards for diagnosis and treatment are often hotly debated. Its initial symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a skin rash, but it can lead to infection of the joints, heart, and nervous system. 

For more information on Lyme disease and how you can prevent and treat it, read our Q&A with George Washington University’s Dr. Marc Siegel, a specialist in internal medicine and infectious diseases. 

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