Justin Bieber’s recent Lyme disease diagnosis has brought the disease into the public eye. Professor Gareth Tudor-Williams explores whether there is a link between tick behaviour and a rise in reported cases.
It’s a fact that every time a high profile individual reveals that they have Lyme disease – the latest being singer Justin Bieber – there is an appreciable spike in internet searches, followed a short while later by an increase in the number of blood samples being sent for testing to the Public Health England national reference laboratory at Porton Down.
So this trend would suggest that the publicity about Lyme disease increases health-seeking behaviour in this country, which in turn leads to more cases being diagnosed.
All of which begs several questions. Is the incidence truly rising or are more people being diagnosed who would not previously have been tested? Are there significant numbers of people living in the UK with undiagnosed and therefore untreated infection? What proportion of untreated infected individuals develop long-term health problems? (more…)