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Report Estimates 300,000 New Cases of Lyme Disease Per Year

Update Date: Aug 19, 2013 02:34 PM EDT

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is contracted via bites from infected deer ticks. The disease was first discovered in Lyme, CT back in 1975 and has since been known for causing symptoms such as fever, headache and fatigue. This infection could potentially leave people with arthritis and other severe health complications if they do not receive antibiotics to recover properly. Based on previous statistics, Lyme disease was estimated to affect around 20,000 to 30,000 people per year. Now, according to a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that number was a huge underestimation of the amount of people who get Lyme disease every year. The CDC is reporting that the more accurate estimation is 300,000.

"It's giving us a fuller picture and it's not a pleasing one," Paul Mead said according to USA Today. Mead is the chief of epidemiology and surveillance for CDC's Lyme disease program.

The CDC was able to calculate this new figure based from a combination of data acquired through surveys, which included a survey of seven national laboratories, a national patient survey, and a review of insurance data that had medical information on 22 million people gathered over six years. The combined set of data provided a more accurate depiction of Lyme disease.

"We know that routine surveillance only gives us part of the picture, and that the true number of illnesses is much greater," Mead added according to HealthDay"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."

The states that appear to be the most affect by Lyme disease are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin. These states made up 96 percent of the cases of Lyme disease within the entire nation in 2011.

In order to keep the numbers from rising, the CDC recommends that people remember to utilize insect repellant. They should also check for ticks every day, shower immediately after being outdoors and inform their doctors if they have a fever or rash. 

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