First step in fighting lyme disease is understanding its scope

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Lyme disease is now endemic in Massachusetts, with 2,000 to 4,000 officially confirmed cases and as many as 10,000 additional unconfirmed cases each year, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. But the disease is not spread uniformly across the state, with Cape Cod and the Islands particularly hard hit.

In a June 28 interview with radio station WBUR, William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, said it is critical that the state gain an accurate picture of the number of people who have lyme disease as well as the number of new infections.

“To really frame a response, to get an idea of what the threat is, to be able to apportion scarce funds, and also to be able to communicate risk to the public, it’s important to know just what the burden of the disease is,” Hanage said.