HEALTH – More than 14% of the world’s population has suffered from Lyme disease, the most common tick-borne disease. That’s the finding of a meta-analysis published in the journal summarizing studies on the subject BMJ Global Health this Tuesday, 14.6.
To show how prevalent Lyme disease is worldwide, the researchers identified 137 eligible studies — out of a possible 4,196 — and collected data from 89 of them. “This is the most comprehensive and up-to-date systematic review,” the study states.
As we have explained in this article HuffPost, Lyme disease is an infectious disease that occurs after the bite of a tick contaminated with Borrelia bacteria. If it is treated well and diagnosed quickly, it can degenerate into a chronic disease without a diagnosis and lead to joint, muscle and skin pain and headaches several months after infection.
Central Europe is hardest hit
With their study, the researchers emphasize that antibodies against the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi were found in the blood of 14.5 percent of the approximately 160,000 participants.
Central Europe is the most affected region with an antibody rate of 20%. Then follow East Asia with 15.9%, Western Europe with 13.5% and Eastern Europe with 10.4%. The Caribbean has the lowest rate at just 2%.
In addition, the study shows that farmers and workers who regularly interact with tick host animals such as dogs and sheep are most at risk of being bitten by an infected tick.
An increase in cases for several years
As the study recalls, previous research has shown that the prevalence of tick-borne diseases has doubled in the past 12 years. For the meta-analysis researchers, this increase can be explained by longer and drier summers due to climate change, animal migration and “increasing contact with pets”.
In 2018, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also pointed out that the spread of Lyme disease was due to the persistent rise in temperature. “Higher temperatures will increase the range of these ticks north and lengthen the season,” said Lyle Petersen, director of the CDC’s Vector-borne Disease Division.
Finally, the study notes that its data may be skewed in regions where Lyme disease is endemic, as public health officials there are likely to conduct antibody testing more regularly than in regions where Lyme disease is less common.
See also on The HuffPost: “In Russia, Thousands of Mosquitoes Create a Hellish Tornado Looking for a Mate”