According to a new study, the incidence of Lyme disease in the UK is steadily increasing and is likely to be three times higher than the figure estimated previously.
Using the Clinical Practice Research Datalink, researchers analysed data from a cohort of 8.4 million individuals registered with GPs amounting to 52.4 million person-years of observation for 2001-2012.
There was a 10-fold increase in the number of cases of Lyme disease from 60 in 2001 to 595 in 2012. The estimated annual incidence rate of Lyme disease in 2012 was 12.1 (95% CI, 11.1-13.2) per 100,000 individuals compared with an incidence rate of 1.6 (95% CI, 1.2-2.0) per 100,000 individuals in 2001. Scotland accounted for the highest incidence rate (37.3 [95% CI, 34.2-40.7] per 100,000 individuals), followed by South West (23.4 [95% CI, 20.6-26.6] per 100,000 individuals) and South England (13.9 [95% CI, 12.6-15.3] per 100,000 individuals).
The figure of 7738 cases in 2012 is much higher than the previously estimated figure of 2000-3000 cases per year. If the current trend of increasing number of Lyme disease cases continues, it is estimated that there could be >8000 cases in the UK in 2019.
Writing in BMJ Open, the authors said: "These results should lead to increased awareness of the need for preventive measures. Greater awareness of the risks may also lead to more rapid diagnosis and treatment which is important to prevent long-term morbidity."