The U.S. had far more Lyme disease cases in the past decade than previously thought and is spreading to new areas, according to a new estimate by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between 2010 and 2018, the U.S. had about 476,000 cases every year, says the new study. That's far higher than the CDC's previous estimates of about 300,000 cases a year.
The old estimate was based on insurance claims and lab test results, but the new study used more current information from a large database of commercial insurance claims, Catherine Roberts reports for Consumer Reports.
Ticks are living longer and spreading to new areas because of the warmer winters climate change brings.
"Lyme disease isn’t the only tick-borne illness that occurs in the U.S., and different kinds of ticks inhabit different regions and cause a variety of diseases," Roberts reports. "So wherever you live, brush up on what sorts of biting bugs you need to look out for when you’re in tick-friendly habitat like grassy or wooded areas. The CDC provides guidance on the regional spread of ticks, and your local health department is also a good source of information on the ticks in your area."