Incidence of Lyme disease three times higher in the UK, contrary to predictions

In the United Kingdom, the incidence of Lyme disease is around 3 times higher than earlier estimations, findings from a retrospective cohort study published in BMJ Open suggest.

A consultant statistician from Oxford, Doctor Victoria Cairns told the Infectious Disease News that Lyme disease is as broadly known in the United Kingdom as it is the US, however, it is far more common in the U.K. than previously thought.

Cairns along with his colleagues noted that the Lyme disease has become the most common tick-borne infection in several parts of Europe & in the United States. CDC revealed that study findings suggest that there are nearly 300,000 cases of Lyme disease diagnosed in the United States each year, and World Health Organization estimates that there are 85,000 annual cases in Europe, an estimate which varies usually between & within countries, the researchers wrote.

The official estimate for the United Kingdom according to the British Infection Association is between 2 thousand & 3 thousand news cases per year, Cairns & colleagues wrote. They observed that, as in the United States, “numbers based on centralized reporting are likely to be large underestimates” in the United Kingdom. Further, incomplete recording of antibiotic use by specialists & in-hospital might also exacerbate underestimated cases, the researchers wrote.

Data were extracted from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink for their study which is a primary care database which covers almost 8 percent of the United Kingdom population across 658 primary care practices. The cohort of 8.4M patients was registered with general practitioners between January 2001 & December 2012. Patients with Lyme disease were identified by the researchers using an algorithm based on medical codes for Lyme disease, erythema chronicum migrans, laboratory tests and anonymized medical notes to reflect the difficulty in diagnosing the disease. They then calculated annual incidence rates & the estimated total number of Lyme disease cases separately for each region of the United Kingdom.