According to the CDC, confirmed cases of Lyme disease and tick-borne illnesses have risen to more than 300,000 a year as opposed to the 50,000 per year that was reported 30 years ago.
It is also believed that this number is a strong underestimate based on the criteria necessary to call a case “confirmed” by the CDC. Marcus Davidsson, an Economist, predicts 1 million people in America will be infected with Lyme in 2018 and experts expect even that to go up.
What Has Caused the Increase in Cases of Lyme Across the US?
Climate change has played a huge part in the spread of Lyme disease, as well as all tick-borne diseases, across the country. What used to be mainly an issue in the North Eastern United States has now spread to all 50 states. The rapid development of the country causes human environments to collide with those of the tick and widespread travel helps those ticks travel around. A complex issue, no doubt.
Lyme Disease Creates Cost in Ways You Probably Haven’t Imagined
In 1987, Sherrill Franklin contracted Lyme disease from a tick bite. It took 2 years to diagnose and 3 weeks of intravenous antibiotics to get her moving again. Twenty years later a second bite caused her much more serious issues due to the recurrence of Lyme. She says that she has spent over $50,000 out of pocket and she is still battling the disease.
Johns Hopkins University estimates 1.3 billion dollars a year spent by Americans battling Lyme, but that really isn’t accurate. It does not factor in work and productivity loss for employers or the money spent on the road to a diagnosis.
Laurie Johnson, executive director of the Climate Cost Project, has been working with her team to get closer to an accurate number on how much Lyme disease patients spend out of pocket. They have people reporting anywhere from $30,000 to $200,000. Now add Lyme disease’s effect on the economy. According to a study published by Yale last year, people are taking fewer outdoor trips because of Lyme disease that could affect the economy to the tune of $5 billion dollars per year. The total financial burden of this disease is truly crippling.
Lyme Disease Research Funding Falls Far Behind
Though the instances of Lyme disease grow in our country and the costs that go with it grow, the money spent on research does not. Dr. John Aucott is the chairperson for a group within the US Department of Health and Human Services called the Tick-Borne Disease Working Group and he says that “the federal research community is not doing enough to find an accurate test and cure for Lyme disease”. This same group also put together a report that has not been published but shows while the National Institute of Health spends $53,571 for each new case of HIV/AIDS it only spends $90 for each new case of Lyme Disease. The CDC per case dollars spent is as equally off balance with $14,054 spent on HIV and $35 spent on Lyme. In August, Senator Charles Schumer announced that for the year 2019 a 12% increase will be allowed to the CDC for research of Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses, but that is not nearly enough.
More Has Got To Be Done
Lyme disease is debilitating, it’s painful, and it’s expensive. It is also confusing and difficult to diagnose. The only way to overcome these issues is through scientific research. That takes money too.
We can no longer say “IF” Lyme disease is something that concerns you because it is now a widespread disease that should concern everyone. We all have to use our voices if we want Lyme research to receive the federal money required to study and search for a better diagnosis, better treatment, and hopefully a cure. Use your voice. Talk to your local politicians. Write to your Congressman. Be heard. If you need more information about Lyme Disease, we at Mosquito Squad of Franklin & Framingham are happy to share what we have with you. Lyme disease is a nationwide problem, it needs nationwide solutions and we strive to be a part. Call us today.