Lyme Disease a Continued Public Health Challenge

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Both research and education are necessary to enhance prevention of Lyme disease.
Both research and education are necessary to enhance prevention of Lyme disease.

HealthDay News — The estimated annual incidence of Lyme disease (LD) is 106.6 cases/100,000 persons in the United States, according to a report published online Aug. 12 in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Christina A. Nelson, MD, from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues conducted a retrospective analysis of a nationwide database of health insurance claims for 2005 to 2010 to identify patients with clinician-diagnosed LD.

The researchers identified 985 inpatient admissions and 44,445 outpatient LD diagnoses in 103,647,966 person-years. Overall, epidemiologic patterns were similar to U.S. surveillance data. The highest outpatient incidence was seen among boys aged 5 to 9 years and adults aged 60 to 64 years. Based on extrapolation to the U.S. population and correction for coding, the annual incidence was estimated at 106.6 cases/100,000 persons, with about 329,000 cases occurring annually.

"In conclusion, our findings underscore that LD is a considerable public health problem, both in terms of number of cases and overall health care use," the authors write. "As with other conditions, underreporting in the national surveillance system remains a challenge. Continued research and education are necessary to enhance prevention efforts and improve diagnostic accuracy to reduce the effects of this disease."

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