Tick-borne Lyme disease is anticipated to affect more than 14% of the world’s population
The presence of antibodies in the blood shows that more than 14% of the world’s population has or has had tick-borne Lyme disease, according to a pooled data analysis of the available evidence published in the open-access journal BMJ Global Health.
The largest recorded frequency of the virus is seen in Central and Western Europe and Eastern Asia, with men aged 50 and older living in rural areas being the most vulnerable, according to the study.
Lyme disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (Bb) infection, which is the most prevalent tick-borne infection. Ticks are second only to mosquitoes in terms of carrying hazardous microorganisms.
The infecting agent can spread to other tissues and organs, potentially affecting the nervous system, joints, heart, and skin. Common symptoms of a tick bite are redness and swelling at the site of the bite. However, the infection can spread to other tissues and organs, which could affect the nervous system, joints, heart, and skin.
Lyme disease has continued to spread throughout the world, but no one knows how widespread it is or what the individual risk factors are.
The study authors searched major research databases and reviewed 137 appropriate articles out of a total of 4196 published up through the end of 2021 in an attempt to fill this knowledge gap. They then combined data from 89 trials with a total of 158,287 participants.
According to the pooled data analysis, the estimated overall global seroprevalence—the presence of antibodies to Bb infection in the blood—was 14.5 percent.
Central Europe (21%) was the region with the greatest reported seroprevalence, followed by Eastern Asia (16%) and Western Europe (16%). 13.5 percentThe lowest recorded seroprevalence (nearly 5.5 percent) was found in the Caribbean (2%), Southern Asia (3%), and Oceania (3%).
But the pooled Bb seroprevalence found in studies that used Western blotting, a common analytical method used to confirm the presence of certain proteins, was lower than that found in studies that used other methods to confirm the presence of Bb.
In light of this finding, the authors think that systematic use of Western blotting could make it much easier to find Bb antibodies.
A smaller pooled study of the results of 58 studies that used Western blotting found that being older (50+), male, living in a rural region, and being bitten by a tick were all linked to a higher likelihood of Bb antibodies.
“Our findings suggest that the prevalence of Bb in 2010–2021 was higher than in 2001–2010,” the researchers write.
Ecological changes and factors such as longer summers and warmer winters, less rainfall, animal migration, fragmentation of arable land, and more time spent outside with pets are all possible explanations, scientists believe.
The authors of the study acknowledge that their findings have some limitations, the most significant of which is the lack of long-term investigations. Furthermore, it was impossible to determine whether Bb antibody positivity had any long-term impact on the probability of getting Lyme disease or recurrence.
Studies with a wide range of designs were included in the review, and most of the papers left out important information, such as clear definitions of high-risk groups.
The authors of the study, however, came to the following conclusion: “Global Bb seropositivity is projected to be relatively high.”
[Lyme disease] is a widely spread infectious disease that has garnered little worldwide attention.”
They think that a better understanding of how the disease is spreading around the world and who is most likely to get it “may help public health response plans and efforts to control Lyme disease.”