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The Cost of Lyme Borreliosis

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Editor’s Note: This article focuses on the cost of Lyme disease treatment in The Netherlands but may not factor in costs for adjunct treatments to support the body, such as vitamins, hormone therapy and detoxification treatments, which are necessary and can often far exceed the cost of simple antimicrobial therapies. In the United States and Canada, the cost of treating Lyme is often much higher due to most therapies not being covered by insurance.  Indeed, many people in these countries spend anywhere from $10,000-30,000 per year for treatment, on average.
Lyme borreliosis (LB) is the most frequently reported tick-borne infection in Europe and North America. The aim of this study was to estimate the cost-of-illness of LB in the Netherlands. We used available incidence estimates from 2010 for tick bite consultations and three symptomatic LB outcomes: erythema migrans (EM), disseminated LB and Lyme-related persisting symptoms.
The cost was estimated using these incidences and the average cost per patient as derived from a patient questionnaire. We estimated the cost from a societal perspective, including healthcare cost, patient cost and production loss, using the friction cost method and a 4% annual discount rate.
Tick bites and LB in 2010 led to a societal cost of €19.3 million (95% CI 15.6-23.4; 16.6 million population) for the Netherlands. Healthcare cost and production loss each constituted 48% of the total cost (€9.3 and €9.2 million/year), and patient cost 4% (€0.8 million/year).
Of the total cost, 37% was related to disseminated LB, followed by 27% for persisting symptoms, 22% for tick bites and 14% for EM. Per outcome, for an individual case the mean cost of disseminated LB and Lyme-related persisting symptoms was both around €5700; for EM and GP consultations for tick bites this was €122 and €53.
As an alternative to the friction cost method, the human capital method resulted in a total cost of €23.5 million/year. LB leads to a substantial societal cost. Further research should therefore focus on additional preventive interventions.
Source: By van den Wijngaard CC1, Hofhuis A1, Wong A2, Harms MG1, de Wit GA2,3, Lugnér AK1, Suijkerbuijk AWM1, Mangen MJ1,3, van Pelt W1. The cost of Lyme borreliosis. Eur J Public Health. 2017 Apr 24. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckw269. [Epub ahead of print]

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