Media Centre: Lyme disease statistics and facts

Lyme disease is a complex illness and there is conflicting information reported in the media. Help your readers make sense of Lyme disease by sharing these useful statistics and facts.

  • Lyme disease is caused by a corkscrew-shaped bacteria called Borrelia – thought to be the most complex bacteria known to man. There are many different strains of the bacteria. The most common in Britain is Borrelia garinii.
  • Borrelia is transmitted through the bite of an infected tick. Lyme disease is also passed on congenitally from an infected mother to her baby and through blood transfusions. It may be sexually transmitted but more research is needed to confirm this. You cannot catch Lyme disease through normal social contact with infected people.
  • Ticks are found wherever there are animals for them to feed on. This means they are in city parks and urban gardens as well as open countryside.
  • Nymph ticks are the most contagious and can be as small as a poppy seed. They live for long periods of time without feeding, which means they can easily linger in houses or on the lawn in the garden and remain dangerous. Pets should be checked regularly and tick removers should be used to remove ticks.
  • Blood tests for Lyme disease are not very reliable. Five separate teams of researchers have found that the reliability of the test used by the NHS is lower than 60%. Because of this low test sensitivity, Lyme disease should be a clinical diagnosis – based on symptoms.
  • Lyme disease should be treated with an intensive course of antibiotics if diagnosed within six weeks of being infected. There is much debate over how to treat patients who are diagnosed later than this. Many NHS doctors insist that the same short course of antibiotics (2 to 4 weeks) will cure them. Based on patient surveys, Caudwell Lyme Disease has found that the universal patient experience has been that this never cures Lyme disease and thousands of patients explore treatment options in other countries as the NHS fails to treat chronic Lyme infections.
  • At least a third of people in the UK with Lyme disease have at least one other tick-borne infection known as co-infections. These co-infections include babesia, bartonella, ehrlichia, mycoplasma and rickettsia. These infections further complicate treatment.

DISCLAIMER: Caudwell LymeCo charity shares public domain  information, which it believes to be reliable, in good faith. It should never replace the advice of a qualified physician with a license to practise medicine. If you believe any information on this website to be incorrect, you are invited to contact the charity using the Contact page.