According to a meta-analysis compiling studies on the subject, more than 14% of the world’s population has Lyme disease, the most common tick-borne disease. Lyme disease, or Lyme disease, is an infectious disease caused by bacteria of the Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato complex, which are transmitted to humans through the bite of infected ticks.
According to the compilation published in the specialist journal BMJ Global Health, Central Europe has the highest infection rate at 20%. And men over 50 who live in rural areas are most at risk.
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. Antibodies against the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb) were found in the blood of 14.5% of the approximately 160,000 participants.
“This is the most comprehensive and up-to-date systematic review of global Bb seroprevalence,” the study said. After Central Europe, the regions with the highest antibody rates are 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%.
Previous research had shown that the prevalence of tick-borne diseases had doubled in the past 12 years. According to the study, this increase can be explained by longer and drier summers due to climate change, animal migration and “increasing contact with pets”.
Farmers and other workers who regularly deal with host animals such as dogs and sheep are most at risk of being bitten by an infected tick, according to the study.
The data could be skewed in areas where Lyme disease is endemic, where health officials are more likely to routinely conduct antibody testing than in areas where it is less common, it said.
Lyme disease is rarely fatal, but people bitten by an infected tick often develop a rash and experience flu-like symptoms, including muscle and joint pain, headache, nausea, and vomiting.