Cases of Lyme disease have increased dramatically over the past year

Tick. Source: Erik Karits / Pixabay

Since the beginning of the year, nearly 900 people in Estonia have been diagnosed with Lyme disease, a nearly 70 percent increase from the same period last year. This is largely the result of a mild June and the end of April.

During the first six months of 2022, 464 cases of Lyme disease were detected, compared to 778 cases during the same time period this year.

Just last week, 102 new cases were reported. "It takes about two weeks for the first Lyme disease symptoms to appear and for a patient to seek medical attention. During last month, people had ample opportunities to spend time outdoors, on Midsummer Day and throughout June, Maria Vikentjeva, a researcher in the infectious diseases department at the National Institute for Health Development (TAI), said.

In the past decade, the incidence of Lyme disease has increased by about 2.5 times, reaching nearly 3,100 cases last year.

While broader trends may be influenced by changes in climate and human behavior as well as enhanced disease diagnosis, ticks are also more likely to carry the disease-causing bacteria. The researcher said, "We are still analyzing the data from this year's bird tick survey, but it appears that the prevalence of Borrelia bacteria is 5 percent higher than what we observed during the 2020 tick bank project."

The rate of incidence of tick-borne encephalitis has increased slower. The number of cases diagnosed in the first six months of this year has increased by eight to 24. According to Vikentjeva, this is a result of heightened awareness. More and more people are receiving encephalitis vaccinations.

Unfortunately, this is the outcome for many.

"On average, it takes at least eight hours after a bite to transmit enough Borrelia bacteria to cause disease. Therefore, we have ample time to detect parasites," explained the researcher.

"We need to be more cautious when we are in nature. Nature means not only in thick forests, but also in parks, on disc golf courses, fitness trails, and other green spaces," Vikentjeva added.

Visit the tick information website (link in Estonian) for more information on the spread of ticks and the diseases they carry.


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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