February 2021

Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal

Highlights: Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 27, No. 2, February 2021

Important Note: Not all articles that EID publishes represent work done at CDC or by CDC staff. In your stories, please clarify whether a study was conducted by CDC (“a CDC study”) or by another institution (“a study published by CDC in the EID journal”). Opinions expressed by authors contributing to EID do not necessarily reflect the opinions of CDC or the institutions with which the authors are affiliated. EID requests that, when possible, you include a live link to the actual journal article in your stories. Once the embargo lifts, this month’s articles will be found in the Ahead of Print section of the EID website at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/ahead-of-print.

The articles of interest summarized below will appear in the February 2021  issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC’s monthly peer-reviewed public health journal. This issue will feature Emerging Viruses. The articles are embargoed until January 13, 2021, at 12 p.m. EDT.

1.    Use of Commercial Claims Data for Evaluating Trends in Lyme Disease Diagnoses, United States, 2010-2018, Amy M. Schwartz et al.

       Estimating the Frequency of Lyme Disease Diagnoses, United States, 2010–2018, Kiersten J. Kugeler et al.

In these two companion articles, CDC researchers explore the potential for commercial insurance claims to provide reliable data on Lyme disease diagnoses (Schwartz et al.) and then use those data to estimate the number of people who are diagnosed with Lyme disease annually in the United States (Kugeler et al.). Although 30,000–40,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported through surveillance each year, substantial underreporting occurs, as is typical for passively reported surveillance data. Because Lyme disease is so common and not all cases are captured by traditional surveillance, CDC looks for alternate ways to get this information. Using data from anonymous insurance claims is one of these ways. A previous analysis of insurance claims data for 2005–2010 estimated that Lyme disease was diagnosed in about 329,000 people annually in the United States. With this new effort, CDC researchers use similar though updated methods to estimate that an average of 476,000 people were diagnosed with and treated for Lyme disease annually in the United States during 2010-2018. Although direct comparison with the prior estimate is limited by differences in methodology, this new estimate underscores that Lyme disease is an important public health issue and suggests that the number of Americans diagnosed with Lyme disease is increasing. The authors also note that diagnoses may not all be true infections, and that the estimate likely includes some degree of overdiagnosis. The high frequency of people being diagnosed with Lyme disease underscores the need for effective and widely acceptable prevention techniques, as well as tick bite prevention awareness.

Contact: CDC Media Relations, phone: 404-639-3286 or email: media@cdc.gov

2.  Prolonged Maternal Zika Viremia as a Marker of Adverse Perinatal Outcomes, Léo Pomar et al.

Zika is a mosquitoborne virus that infects humans but causes severe disease mainly in pregnant women and their babies. Because of the seriousness of the birth defects that Zika virus causes in fetuses and newborns, investigators carried out a study of pregnant women in French Guiana, enrolling infected and noninfected women. Both groups underwent blood tests in each trimester and at delivery. Prolonged viremia was defined as ongoing detection of virus for at least 30 days after infection. Maternal Zika virus infection with prolonged viremia was associated with a 7-fold increased risk for adverse outcomes for fetuses and newborns compared with pregnancies without prolonged viremia. Prolonged maternal viremia also was associated with a 2-fold increased risk for mother-to-child Zika virus infection compared with infected mothers without prolonged viremia. Prolonged maternal Zika virus viremia could be a marker for an increased risk for maternal–fetal transmission and potentially serious outcomes. In the fight against Zika, prevention is key. Communities need to reduce mosquito populations in residential areas, and individuals need to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Contact: Dr Léo Pomar, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Lausanne, Switzerland; email: leo.pomar@chuv.ch

Note to reporters: Consider adding this sentence to your article as a public service:  “CDC also provides information to help the public learn more about diseases spread by tick and mosquito bites and how to prevent such bites.” If you prefer to craft your own language, this is the URL: Preventing tick bites: https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/prev/ and preventing mosquito bites: https://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/prevent-mosquito-bites.html



Page last reviewed: January 11, 2021