More than 14 per cent of the world’s population may have had Lyme disease, according to new estimates. This will help researchers help understand how widespread the tick-borne illness is. The research has been published in BMJ Global Health and is the result of an examination of nearly 90 studies, NBC News reported.
“As far as I’m aware, this is the first global seroprevalence work that’s been done,” Dr Peter Krause, a senior research scientist at the Yale School of Public Health, told NBC News. He was not involved in the new study.
Seroprevalence is the percentage of individuals in a population who have antibodies to an infectious agent.
The databases of previous studies were combed by Yan Dong at Kunming Medical University in China and his colleagues to understand the prevalence of the disease, according to New Scientist.
The 89 studies which they analysed were carried out between January 1984 and December 2021 and included blood samples from a total of more than 150,000 people.
The researchers looked for information on the presence of bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, the primary cause of Lyme disease. The results revealed the presence of Lyme disease in more than one in seven people (or 14.5 per cent) globally.
What is Lyme disease?
According to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention in the United States, it is the most common vector-borne disease caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks.
Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans, said the CDC. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.