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Fatal Forecast: Lyme Disease Will Plague America

National surveillance for Lyme disease began in 1982 and since then the number of reported cases has grown over 25-fold.1 Between 1990 and 2015, the number of reported cases in the U.S. doubled.2 The disease has also spread geographically.3

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it's the fastest growing vector-borne infectious disease in the U.S.4

The CDC reports the disease, and the ticks that carry the disease, are concentrated in the northeast and upper Midwest.5 Ticks carry more than Lyme disease, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever and human babesiosis, a rare microscopic parasite that infects red blood cells.

Each year approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to the CDC.6 However, this number does not reflect all cases diagnosed in the U.S. Following two studies by the CDC, researchers estimate 10 times that number are infected with Lyme disease each year, for a total ranging between 296,000 and 376,000 cases.

Lyme disease is often called "the great imitator,"7 as it may mimic a number of other disorders, such as arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis (MS), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Alzheimer's disease.

Outwardly, most infected individuals appear healthy, in spite of suffering severe symptoms. Vague and dispersed pain complaints may be misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia.