Reported American cases of Lyme have tripled over 20 years, reaching an estimated 300,000 or more cases each year. Rates continue to increase, and the geographic distribution of the tick that carries the disease continues to expand. Thanks in part to climate change bringing longer summers farther north, the tick can now be found in over half of the counties in the U.S. While pressure to contain the spread is mounting, no state yet has a comprehensive plan to address Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.
France sees fewer yearly cases of Lyme than the U.S. state of Massachusetts, but in September of 2016 the French government released a national plan to address Lyme disease, focusing on prevention, developing new treatment protocols, and research (particularly into new diagnostics). As the country with the first-ever countrywide plan, France offers an early glimpse of what a comprehensive national Lyme disease effort might look like.
After having reported extensively about Lyme disease in Massachusetts, David Scales reports now from Alsace and Lorraine, among the harder-hit areas of France. Follow his stories to learn about France’s new plan through the eyes of some of the patients affected by it, as well as infectious disease physicians, Lyme researchers, and regional public health officials.