Reported Lyme cases decrease, Greenwich Time Online, 11 Jan 2001 
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 Reported Lyme cases decrease, Greenwich Time Online, 11 Jan 2001

Reported Lyme cases decrease, Greenwich Time Online, 11 Jan 2001

From Greenwich Time Online:

11 Jan 2001

Reported Lyme cases decrease

By Martin B. Cassidy

Staff Writer

The number of Lyme disease cases in Fairfield County dipped last year,
but state health officials say the decline was probably just a reprieve
in a continuing upward trend.

"There's no good year for Lyme disease in Connecticut," state
Department of Public Health Epidemiology Program Coordinator Dr.
Matt Cartter said yesterday.

Preliminary figures as of Jan. 8 show 857 diagnosed cases of Lyme
disease in Fairfield County in 2000, down 21 percent from 1,078 cases
the year before, according to the public health department. The
department has tallied 2,558 cases in the state for the year 2000, 20
percent fewer than the 3,213 cases the year before. In 1993, 258 Lyme
disease cases were reported in Fairfield County.

Figures for 2000 are not final because health officials are reviewing
several thousand other reports of possible cases. Final results for the
season are expected April 1.

"Comparisons from year to year in terms of Lyme disease are not as
meaningful as general trends," Cartter said. "What's important is that
in the last decade, the general trend in cases is upward."

Cartter said last year's cool, wet summer could be partially responsible
for the decrease in reported Lyme cases, because many state residents
may have been less active outdoors. Fear of exposure to West Nile virus
also may have kept many inside.

Over the past 15 years, Lyme disease has spread from coastal counties
of Connecticut to gain a foothold in northern areas of the state,
Cartter said.

Local figures for 2000 were not available. In Greenwich during 1999,
physicians reported 88 new cases of the disease, 40 more than the year
before and the third highest number in Connecticut after Westport and
New Milford, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

In contrast, Westchester County health officials saw a 51 percent dip in
Lyme disease cases in 2000 as part of a multiyear downward trend of
Lyme cases reported in that county. However, Westchester officials are
cautious about long-term predictions for extending the trend.

"The number of cases being reported is going down, but not necessarily
the number of actual cases," Westchester County Health Commissioner
Joshua Lipsman said. "We would like to believe that Lyme disease is
going away, but the dip is probably for a lot of reasons."

Last week, the New York state Health Department announced there
were 272 new cases of Lyme disease reported in Westchester this past
year, as compared with 553 in 1999.

According to Lipsman, two trends that reduced the number of cases
reported were physicians successfully treating patients for Lyme disease
without diagnosing or reporting it, as well as residents avoiding
getting bitten by ticks.

"Doctors are getting smarter and smarter about Lyme disease," Lipsman
said. "They're picking up the infections sooner and sooner."

The Greenwich Department of Health tests ticks for the
Lyme-transmitting bacteria, borrelia burgdorferi, but doesn't compile
statistics on how many new cases of Lyme disease result from tick bites.

Kenneth Roper, a lab technician for the town, said the health department
was considering a system for keeping track of how many new cases of
Lyme disease originate in town. This past year, about 33 percent of the
ticks tested by the Greenwich health department were positive.

"It's something we'd like to do in the future," Roper said. "But it
takes a lot of manpower."

Annual fluctuations in the number of Lyme disease cases reported is
partially due to the number of ticks that year and what state of
maturity the ticks have reached, according to Dr. Kirby Stafford, an
entomologist for the New Haven Agricultural Experiment Station. In
seasons when mature ticks are prevalent, Lyme disease is less likely to
be transmitted than when smaller nymphal ticks are more numerous.

"Small nymphal ticks are harder to detect and transmit the disease at a
higher rate," Stafford said. "They are also less likely to be found and
tested at all."

Greenwich Time Online | Reported Lyme cases decrease


Wed, 02 Jul 2003 06:55:37 GMT
 [ 1 post ] 

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