The incidence of tick-borne disease in the United States is increasing at an alarming rate, officials from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases say. They call on public health and biomedical researchers to double down on efforts to better understand the pathogenesis of tick-borne illnesses and to develop improved strategies for prevention and management.
Citing a report released earlier this year from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicating that the number of tick-borne diseases reported in the United States has more than doubled in the last 13 years, Catharine I. Paules, MD, from the Office of the Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues suggest this is a conservative estimate.
"The public health burden of tickborne pathogens is considerably underestimated," the authors write in a perspective article published online July 25 in the New England Journal of Medicine. "For example, the CDC reports approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease per year but estimates that the true incidence is 10 times that number." The authors attribute this discrepancy to limitations in surveillance and reporting systems, as well as constraints imposed by diagnostics that rely heavily on serologic assays.