As America approaches the tail end of the COVID-19 pandemic, a quiet epidemic has emerged that has the potential to affect as many as 476,000 citizens before the year is out. The epidemic is Lyme disease, which is being identified in record numbers throughout the country.*
Researchers at such institutions as Johns Hopkins, Colorado State University and SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse are all reporting an increased spread of Lyme disease. And they are finding it not only in the woodlands of New England and other forested regions as typically expected but in frightening and unexpected numbers on the beaches in Northern California, throughout the southwest and southeast and other parts of the country where reported cases are on the rise.
One suspected reason for the uptick is the pandemic itself, which drove people to spend more time walking outdoors and now, with restrictions being lifted, are seeing these people hitting the road for open-air destinations throughout the country. To complicate matters, this past winter was one of the warmest on record; and lingering summer heat added weeks of outdoor activity to animals that carry ticks and which thrive in hot, humid conditions. Pests.org, which produces an annual 2021 Tick Forecast, projects that “most states will experience the warmer, wetter conditions that drive tick populations—and the prospect of tick-borne diseases—skyward.”
As the prevalence and fear of Lyme disease intensifies, one thing that all experts agree on is the need for testing immediately if there are signs that someone may have contracted Lyme disease. These signs may include fever, headache, fatigue, joint pain, weakness in the limbs and often a characteristic skin rash with a bull's-eye pattern.
For accurate and fast testing, more and more clinicians are turning to the Sofia® 2 Lyme FIA by Quidel. This revolutionary test provides the patient and physician with indicative results within 15 minutes, as opposed to days, which has historically been the norm (and during which time organisms can spread and become systemic). It can be performed in the privacy of a doctor’s office, local clinic or even by a nurse at a children’s summer camp; and it is the only test that can get results from a simple finger prick of blood.
“Not having to wait days for test results allows physicians and nurse practitioners to treat patients with positive results more rapidly while more quickly pursuing other diagnosis and treatment for those who test negative,” said Judi Tilghman, Ph.D., vice president of technology assessment at Quidel Corporation. “For patients with a positive finding for Lyme, early treatment is the key; and excellent outcomes are common thanks to fabulous antibiotics now available. But if left undiagnosed or untreated, Lyme disease can lead to unintended consequences including neurological defects, heart problems (such as an irregular heartbeat), eye inflammation, liver inflammation, Bell’s palsy, meningitis and severe fatigue.”
One fear that some researchers have is that some people experiencing symptoms of Lyme may have been reluctant to seek medical care over the past year, given their concerns about exposure to COVID at the doctor’s office or clinic. This could result in cases going undiagnosed and untreated, which makes Lyme disease much more serious and harder to treat later on.
“As with all afflictions, the key is catching it early so effective treatment can begin as soon as possible,” said Dr. Tilghman. “Lyme disease can affect people of any age or gender. People should not hesitate to get tested, and physicians should have their radar up for signs of Lyme disease in their patients. With the general population’s increased awareness of Lyme disease, along with increased clinical awareness in the importance of early testing for tick-borne infections, later stages of Lyme disease and the life-threatening effects that accompany them should never happen.”
*Sources on file at Quidel
About Quidel Corporation
Quidel Corporation (Nasdaq: QDEL) is a leading manufacturer of diagnostic solutions at the point of care, delivering a continuum of rapid testing technologies that further improve the quality of health care throughout the globe. An innovator for over 40 years in the medical device industry, Quidel pioneered the first FDA-cleared point-of-care test for influenza in 1999 and was the first to market a rapid SARS-CoV-2 antigen test in the U.S. Under trusted brand names, Sofia®, Solana®, Lyra®, Triage® and QuickVue®, Quidel’s comprehensive product portfolio includes tests for a wide range of infectious diseases, cardiac and autoimmune biomarkers, as well as a host of products to detect COVID-19. With products made in America, Quidel’s mission is to provide patients with immediate and frequent access to highly accurate, affordable testing for the good of our families, our communities and the world. For more information about Quidel, visit quidel.com.