Could race affect the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease?

A recent article published in Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases by Moon and colleagues  reviews individual and community risk factors and incidence rates for Lyme disease within 38 counties in Pennsylvania. [1]

 

by Daniel J. Cameron, MD, MPH

Using data from Geisinger electronic medical records, researchers identified 9657 Lyme disease cases diagnosed between 2006 and 2014 in central and northeastern Pennsylvania.

Are African-Americans less likely to be diagnosed with Lyme disease? Click To Tweet
African-American, man, student

Only 1.4% of Lyme disease patients in central and northeastern Pennsylvania are African-American, according to a medical records review.

Moon and colleagues found that more than 97% of the Lyme disease patients were white non-Hispanic. Only 0.9% were Hispanic and 1.4% were black non-Hispanic.

The authors suggest that “The low-density semi-rural and suburban communities close to wooded, brushy, or grassy landscapes favored by ticks are more likely to be white and affluent,” and therefore put this population at a greater risk.

However, different socioeconomic levels, involvement in outdoor leisure activities, access to health care, and awareness of Lyme disease may also play a role. “There is some evidence,” the authors write, “that African-Americans may be at higher risk than whites for delayed diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease,” writes Moon, citing a study by Fix. [2]

 

Related Articles:

Lyme disease diagnosis almost missed in patient with Babesia

Lyme disease in children rising in Pennsylvania: An inside look

References:

  1. Moon KA, Pollak J, Hirsch AG, et al. Epidemiology of Lyme disease in Pennsylvania 2006-2014 using electronic health records. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2018.
  2. Fix AD, Pena CA, Strickland GT. Racial differences in reported Lyme disease incidence. Am J Epidemiol. 2000;152(8):756-759.


4 Replies to "Could race affect the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease?"

  • Joe Belcher
    11/29/2018 (5:59 pm)
    Reply

    Could being a Southerner affect the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases?

    • Dr. Daniel Cameron
      11/30/2018 (1:12 am)
      Reply

      Yes.

  • Jennifer I.
    11/30/2018 (1:39 am)
    Reply

    Interesting, however in my case, white female undiagnosed for 20+ years with access to endless doctors who had no clue and treated me horribly, so …

    • Dr. Daniel Cameron
      11/30/2018 (9:58 am)
      Reply

      Thanks for sharing your frustration.


Got something to say?

Some html is OK