Giant Study Reveals Over 14% of The World Has Probably Had Lyme Disease

According to a thorough analysis of the available information released on Tuesday, Lyme disease, the most prevalent tick-borne infection, has affected more than 14% of the world's population.

The study published in the journal BMJ Global Health revealed that Central Europe had the greatest prevalence of infection (20%), with males over 50 living in rural regions being the most at risk.

Although the disease is seldom deadly, it causes a rash and flu-like symptoms such as muscle and joint pain, headache, nausea, and vomiting in those who are bitten by an infected tick.

The researchers used data from 89 studies to determine the global prevalence of Lyme disease.

The bacterium that causes the disease, Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb), was discovered in the blood of 14.5 percent of the roughly 160,000 participants.

According to the researchers, ​"this is the most comprehensive and up-to-date systematic review of the worldwide", prevalence of the condition.

After Central Europe, Eastern Asia, Western Europe, and Eastern Europe had the greatest antibody rates, with 15.9%, 13.5 percent, and 10.4 percent, respectively.

The Caribbean, on the other hand, had the lowest percentage, at just 2%. 

Tick-borne illness prevalence has increased in the last 12 years, according to previous study.

Climate change has resulted in longer, drier summers, animal migration, habitat degradation, and "increasingly frequent pet contact", according to the research.

Farmers and employees who often deal with host animals such as dogs and sheep were the most likely to be bitten by an infected tick, according to the study.

It noted that statistics in areas where Lyme disease is widespread might be distorted since health professionals are more likely to conduct frequent antibody tests there than in areas where the disease is less common.

According to the study, research utilizing a technique known as western blotting was more trustworthy, and its usage "could significantly improve the accuracy" of future studies.