Thursday, 5 February 2015


BEAUTY AND THE WEE TICK - Photo taken in Killarney National Park Ireland.

An interesting article published today in Science Daily should be heeded by our Health Authorities in UK and Ireland, taking tick borne diseases more seriously may help to reduce our rising healthcare costs.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg school of public health looked at cases of Lyme Disease.

'New research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests that a prolonged illness associated with the disease is more widespread and serious in some patients than previously understood. With an estimated 240,000 to 440,000 new cases of the tick-borne illness diagnosed every year, the researchers found that Lyme disease costs the U.S. health care system between $712 million and $1.3 billion a year -- or nearly $3,000 per patient on average -- in return doctor visits and testing, likely to investigate the cause of some patients' lingering symptoms of fatigue, musculoskeletal pain and memory problems. These visits come after patients have finished their original course of antibiotics.'

'The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 10 to 20 percent of those treated for Lyme disease with the recommended two-to-four week course of antibiotics continue to have symptoms. But, in the new study, the researchers found that more than 63 percent of those treated for Lyme disease had at least one PTLDS-related diagnosis -- a rate 36 percentage points higher than those who did not have Lyme disease.'

'The study's lead author John Aucott, MD, an assistant professor of rheumatology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says it does no good to keep debating the existence of long-term problems related to Lyme disease while people are suffering a debilitating illness. And he says that increasing awareness of potential complications is crucial to avoid misdiagnosis and unnecessary medical testing.
"These patients are lost," he says. "No one really knows what to do with them. It's a challenge, but the first thing we need to do is recognize this is a problem. There's not a magic pill. These patients already got the magic pill and it didn't work."
"Health care costs, utilization and patterns of care following Lyme disease" was written by Emily Adrion, MSc; John Aucott, MD; Klaus Lemke, PhD; and Jonathan P. Weiner, DrPH.
This research was funded by a grant from the Lyme Disease Research Foundation.'

This study is based on patients diagnosed early in their illness and treated, but here in the UK and Ireland there is evidence through patient charity groups, that patients are rarely diagnosed and treated at that early easier to treat stage, thus increasing the numbers falling into a debilitating illness.

All too often Public  Health England quotes the numbers of positive serological cases currently about 1000 a year in England and Wales but fail to recognise that even CDC accept now that the true figures are likely to be 10x that of positive serological cases.

You do the maths but I make that £20,007,000 a year for England and Wales.

At a recent Parliamentary meeting on Lyme disease - our PHE 'expert' claimed that being an island we had less cases, but this fails to consider two important factors - one that ticks are carried by birds Intercontinentally and that Borrelia infection (Lyme Disease) has been around for 15 million years.

Lack of research and lack of a reliable test may have more to do with the lack of cases found in the UK and Ireland.

Link to Parliamentary meeting here


  1. Great post on a much-ignored but important aspect of Lyme. One extra thought - you estimate the cost of Lyme to the NHS, but there are other costs to the tax-payer too - lost income tax, lost tax on discretionary spend, lost repayment of student loans, ESA and PIP payments. All of this comes from the nation's pockets. Sadly the expenditure on treating Lyme properly would be immediate and the benefits would come in slowly, so the politicians refuse to notice. Louise

    1. Quite so - and the cost of a publicity campaign from PHE to make the public aware of how to avoid tick bites and to seek early medical attention would be negligible - in fact not doing this is in my eyes negligent of PHE- who do not hear the cries from parents who regularly appear on Lyme forums because their child has fallen ill following a tick bite and their doctor does not know how to treat.
      There are none so blind as those that do not want to see.

    2. Sorry I should say the cries from many patients not just children but it is the plight of children that most concerns me - they are the most vulnerable and may have a lifetime, 60 years of living the hell of this disease

  2. The other point where the NHS could SAVE a bit of money is that according to the Map of Medicine Lyme should be a CLINICAL diagnosis in many cases, however even the Lyme expert at the Parliamentary meeting is over reliant on wildly inaccurate testing which does not always need to be carried out.

    Not until significant numbers of people in the public eye contract this awful illness and are then ignored by conventional medicine will anything be done to help the thousands of sufferers (me included) who have been left on the scrap heap.

    1. Jas yes the incompetence of the way Lyme is dealt with by NHS is a disgrace - what is even worse is the confidence a Consultant or doctor will say 'you do not have Lyme Disease we don't know what is wrong with you but you do not have Lyme Disease. This is ineptitude the scientific research is there that shows current guidance is wrong and that there is no test that can prove you haven't got Lyme Disease - NHS needs to move on and help these patients in a meaningful way.