A “Manhattan Project” for Lyme Disease

Posted on: May 20, 2014

Lyme disease is the world’s most common tick-borne illness and new science shows it may be at least 10 times more rampant than official estimates. In a 2014 paper by leading Lyme disease advocates: Lyme Disease: Call for a “Manhattan Project” to Combat the Epidemic, authors provide a comprehensive glimpse into new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) studies, discuss the historically complex and controversial approach to Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment; and contrast Lyme disease to the HIV/AIDS epidemic to provide a clearer view into the disease’s actual impact on society. 

The three CDC studies provide the foundation to dramatically re-scope the incidence, prevalence, and disease profile of Lyme disease patients.  For example: 

1.       A survey of testing practices for Lyme disease by large commercial laboratories –United States (2008)  – authors conclude a more reliable annual rate of Lyme disease diagnosis was closer to over 300,000 cases, or 10 times the 30,000 Lyme disease cases officially reported each year by the CDC;

2.       Self-reported Lyme disease diagnosis, treatment, and recovery: Results from 2009, 2011, & 2012 HealthStyles nationwide surveys – finds that in 2012 .3% of respondents were diagnosed with Lyme disease—a number that extrapolated over the U.S. population alone may suggest as many as 1 million people would have been diagnosed in that time frame. Authors concluded that “a very large number of individuals in the U.S. have been diagnosed with Lyme disease”;

3.       Epidemiology and clinical characteristics of Lyme disease diagnosed by health care providers: Results from a large national database study – finds that Lyme disease is treated by many healthcare providers, though not formally reported. Authors concluded that children (inpatient) and women (outpatient) are more likely to be diagnosed

In context, these new CDC studies suggest that Lyme disease is much more rampant than previously thought, with between 300,000 to 1 million new Lyme disease cases each year (in the U.S. alone) and affecting women and children mostly. Due to such staggering new data, patient advocates from LymeDisease.org and the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS), call for “a coordinated ‘Manhattan project’ similar to the attack mounted against the HIV/AIDS epidemic…to address the serious worldwide threat of Lyme disease.” 

As Bayer HealthCare Animal Health, a company committed to “Science for a Better Life,” we raise awareness of diseases that affect animals and humans and thus are of zoonotic nature. Although study authors have so far been unable to determine how pets, as well as farm animals, are included in  Lyme disease transmission, new science has shown that dogs are getting Lyme disease 21% more frequently than in 2009, corresponding with an increase in the tick population during the same time period.

To learn more about Lyme disease, ways to protect you, your family and your pet, visit:

·         LymeDisease.org


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May 20, 2014