Bottom Line/HEALTH:Where can I find out if Lyme disease is in my state?
Dr. Richard Horowitz:That’s a bit problematic, because the CDC maps that they use to tell if someone has Lyme. This is national reporting, and many doctors are scared—they don’t report Lyme disease regularly—so the reporting figures are really underestimated by a figure of tenfold and probably a lot more. Lyme has spread across the United States. It’s certainly endemic in the northeast, in California, the Pacific Midwest, but it’s in the Midwest, it’s in Texas—Texas just found that 25% of their ticks contain Lyme disease, Borellia burgdorferi. It’s in Canada. It’s a worldwide epidemic, so when people say, “Wherever I live, is there a chance I have Lyme?” The answer is yes. The birds are carrying the ticks…they’re depositing them in different parts of the world…and it really is everywhere. Now there are hot spots, of course, but you can get Lyme disease anywhere in the world—in China, you can get it in Europe, it’s worldwide.
Bottom Line:And you’re saying, too, that even if it’s not Lyme disease or this variety of Borrelia, it may be something—that there’s some kissing cousin of it no matter where you are.
Dr. Horowitz:That’s correct, and this new one, Borrelia miyamotoi, the mother ticks are passing this bacteria on to their offspring without a blood meal from a mouse or a deer. So we’re in for big trouble with this particular brand of Borrelia, its kissing cousin, as you say, because they don’t have reliable blood tests and it mimics Lyme. So if you go to your doctor and you have Lymelike symptoms and the tests are negative, they should know that it could be due to another species of Borrelia, and that the tests are just not reliable.