Lyme Disease Infections Have More Than Tripled in Rural America Since 2007: Health Insurance Analysts


The spread of Lyme disease has increased dramatically over the past 15 years with the illness greater than tripling in rural areas, in response to the nonprofit FAIR Health’s recent evaluation of medical health insurance claims.

Lyme disease, attributable to the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, is transmitted to humans through the bites of infected blacklegged ticks, often called “deer ticks.”

From 2007 to 2021, private insurance claims with a Lyme disease diagnosis in rural America jumped by 357 percent and in urban areas by 65 percent (pdf).

A big share of that increase occurred within the years between 2016 and 2021, with a 60 percent increase in rural areas and 19 percent increase in urban areas.

FAIR Health also identified seasonal geographic trends in claims between 2016 and 2021, with the months of June and July seeing more incidents in rural regions and the months of November to April seeing more cases in urban areas.

In 2017, the states with the very best proportion of Lyme disease diagnoses on insurance claims were Latest Jersey, Connecticut, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Vermont. In 2021, Maine replaced North Carolina, claiming a spot in the highest five.

FAIR Health reported that symptoms like fatigue and malaise were more common amongst patients with Lyme disease than amongst other patients.

“Lyme disease stays a growing public health concern. FAIR Health will proceed to make use of its repository of claims data to offer actionable and relevant insights to healthcare stakeholders looking for to raised understand the continued rise of Lyme disease cases,” FAIR Health President Robin Gelburd said in an Aug. 2 news release.

Lyme Disease

The same old symptoms of Lyme disease include headache, fatigue, fever, and a skin rash called erythema migrans, often described as a “bull’s-eye” rash. If the infection is just not treated, it may spread to the nervous system, heart, and joints. Most cases can typically be treated successfully after taking antibiotics for just a few weeks.

Reducing tick habitats, applying pesticides to infested areas, using insect repellent, and immediately removing any ticks found on the body are among the ways to stop a Lyme disease infection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates about 476,000 Americans are diagnosed and treated annually for Lyme disease.

The CDC studied the economic burden of Lyme disease between 2014 and 2016 and located that Americans spent between $345 million and $968 million annually for expenses related to the illness.

The typical patient spent about $1,200 per infection.

Researchers estimate that over 14 percent of the world’s population has been infected with Lyme disease sooner or later, in response to an evaluation of antibody data published in BMJ Global Health in June.


Naveen Athrappully is a news reporter covering business and world events at The Epoch Times.


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