More than 14% of the world’s population has had Lyme disease, according to a meta-analysis, which compiles studies on the subject, published on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.
Lyme borreliosis, more commonly known as Lyme disease, is an infectious disease caused by a bacteria of the complex Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato transmitted to humans through the bites of infected ticks.
According to the compilation published in the magazine BMJ Global HealthCentral Europe has the highest infection rate at 20%. And men over 50 who live in rural areas are most at risk.
To show how common Lyme disease is worldwide, the researchers identified 137 eligible studies, out of a possible 4,196, and collected data from 89 of them. Antibodies against the bacteria in 14.5% of the approximately 160,000 participants Borrelia burgdorferi (Berry) found in the blood.
“This is the most comprehensive and current systematic review of global Bb seroprevalence.”
After Central Europe, the regions with the highest antibody percentages are East Asia at 15.9%, Western Europe at 13.5% and Eastern Europe at 10.4%. The Caribbean has the lowest rate, at just 2%.
Previous research had shown that the prevalence of tick-borne diseases had doubled in the past 12 years. This increase is due to longer and drier summers due to climate change, animal migration and “more and more contact with pets”the study said.
Farmers and other workers who regularly handle host animals such as dogs and sheep are most at risk of being bitten by an infected tick, the study finds.
Data may be biased in areas where Lyme disease is endemic, as health authorities are more likely to routinely perform antibody tests compared to areas where it is less common, it said.
As a reminder, Lyme disease is rarely fatal, but people who are bitten by an infected tick often develop a rash and suffer from flu-like symptoms, including muscle and joint pain, headache, nausea and vomiting.
It should be noted that French researchers recently created a weather map of ticks in France to raise awareness among governments, professionals and citizens.