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CDC: Lyme disease 10 times more common than reports

MARSHFIELD, WI (WTAQ) - Lyme disease is about 10 times more common than what’s reported.

That’s what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control said Monday after it surveyed seven national labs, reviewed insurance data, and questioned thousands of patients.

According to preliminary figures at a conference in Boston, the CDC estimates that 300,000 cases of tick-borne Lyme occur each year in the U.S.

Until now, about 30,000 cases have been reported per year.

The disease is named after the town where it was first detected – Lyme, Connecticut – in 1975.

In Wisconsin, the Marshfield Clinic’s Medical Research Foundation was the first to study it. Wisconsin officials reported more than 23,000 confirmed cases from 1980 through 2010.

Dr. Paul Mead, who tracks Lyme disease for the CDC, says the new national study gives doctors a fuller picture of the disorder – and, “It’s not a pleasing one.”

Lyme disease often looks like a bull’s eye around a tick bite. Most people easily recover with antibiotics – but Lyme can cause arthritis and more severe health problems if left untreated.

Most Lyme cases are reported in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and 11 states in the northeastern U.S.