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Surge in Lyme disease cases reported in the US due to a change in surveillance approach, providing a clearer tracking system and raising awareness among healthcare professionals.

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates a 69% increase in Lyme disease cases in the United States in 2022. However, the surge is attributed to a new surveillance methodology rather than a sudden rise in cases. Implemented in 2022, the change allows 15 high-incidence states to report cases with only a positive blood test result, alleviating a significant reporting burden.

The new approach aims to capture a more accurate representation of Lyme cases nationwide and save time for public health departments. While the comparison with previous years becomes challenging due to the methodology shift, the updated system is expected to provide a clearer and more sustainable tracking of Lyme disease trends.

It is widely accepted that the sooner Lyme disease is accurately diagnosed and treated the better the patient's clinical outcome. According to Timothy J. Sellati, PhD, GLA's CSO:

"One of several reasons a physician may miss an opportunity to diagnose Lyme disease early is because they mistakenly think, "we don't have Lyme disease here".  Dr. Sellati says, "More accurate CDC surveillance data, resulting in higher case numbers reported, will hopefully bring the possibility of a Lyme disease diagnosis to the forefront of a primary care physician's mind".  

The prior surveillance method required states to report Lyme disease cases only when both clinical and diagnostic test data were available. This approach, while comprehensive, resulted in a substantial reporting backlog, especially in Lyme-endemic states like Massachusetts (MA) and Minnesota (MN).
The extensive data collection process overwhelmed public health departments and hindered timely reporting. The new methodology enables Lyme endemic states to report positive cases with only laboratory. For reference, Lyme-endemic states must continue the thorough reporting process, including both test results and clinical information. 
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