Lyme disease is an “infectious disease caused by three species of Borrelia. Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato is the main cause of Lyme disease in the US, Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii” are responsible for most European cases of Lyme disease (Higgins, 2004). Lyme is one of the most prevalent “tick-borne diseases in the Northern Hemisphere. Borrelia is transmitted to humans through a bite from an infected tick of the genus ixodes” (Higgins, 2004). The symptoms may range from “fatigue, fever, erythema migrans (EM), depression and headache” (Higgins, 2004). Lyme disease is an emerging problem of great concern. This paper seeks to gather statistical data on the disease; Compile the information in terms of the population affected by the disease, historical outbreaks of the disease, and typical progression of the disease; analyze and discuss the findings.
Lyme disease mainly affects the people of United States though it “is regarded as a rare disease by the Office of Rare Disease (ORD) of the National Institute of Health (NIH) because it affects less than 200, 000 people of the total United States population” (Lyme disease, 2010). The annual incidence of Lyme disease in the US currently stands at “100,000 or approximately 1 in 2,719 or 0.04%” of the population (Lyme disease, 2010). This implies that around “8,333 months and 1,923 per week or 273 per week contract the disease in the United States” (Lyme disease, 2010). Historically, Lyme disease is thought to have been present in North America for thousands of years. The current research and knowledge about the disease was established when the disease was discovered in a “group of children in Lyme, Connecticut in 1975.” (Lyme disease, 2010). In the 1950s Lyme disease was prevalent in Europe as lymphocytema and EM were found to be linked to the tick bite. The outbreaks are mainly concentrated in the “temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere which are most endemic for Lyme disease” (Higgins, 2004). The wooded regions of these areas are infested with Ixodes ticks which are vectors of this disease.
“The causal agent is injected into the skin by a bite from an infected Ixodes tick, the injected spirochetes multiply at the site of infection and migrate inwards,” the host’s immune response leads to the development of EM lesion (Higgins, 2004). Several days or weeks after the bite, the bacterium spreads to other “skin sites, joints nervous system and the heart” (Higgins, 2004). This often leads to the disseminated form of the disease with multiple symptoms. The “spirochetes persist in the system for months or even years despite the production of antibodies by the immune system” (Higgins, 2004).
Discussion and conclusion
The findings indicate that Lyme disease is mainly confined to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere (North America, Europe, and Asia). The disease is considered as rare as it affects a small portion of the population. For instance, in the US it affects 100,000 people per year, about 0.04%, according to the CDC. The factors that led to the outbreaks include human encroachment in the wooden areas which are heavily infested by Ixodes ticks carrying the bacterium B. burgdofrferi. Another factor may be unhygienic conditions since the ticks must be attached “for a minimum of 12 hours for it to transfer the spirochetes.” (Higgins, 2004). Better diagnosis methods such as ELISA and Imaging have been developed to detect Lyme disease and thus it is easier to detect and control the disease.
- Higgins, R. (2004). Emerging Bacterial Zoonotic Diseases. Int Epizoot , 569-581.
- Lyme disease . (2010).