PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A bipartisan push for more data about Lyme disease has yielded a new estimate that nearly a half million people are diagnosed and treated for the disease every year.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Tina Smith of Minnesota called on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to publish new data about the tick-borne infection. The senators said Tuesday the new calculation is about ten times higher than the number of annual reported Lyme cases.
Collins and Smith wrote the Kay Hagan Tick Act, which was enacted in December 2019. The act was named for Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, who died from complications of the tick-borne Powassan virus in 2019.
Collins said the new data show Lyme disease remains “vastly under-reported” in the U.S. Better data will allow the federal government to better combat the disease, she said.
Lyme disease is transmitted by tick bites and can be reduced with steps such as wearing repellent and protective clothing.