https://www.theguardian.com/science...ases-may-be-three-times-higher-than-estimated Cases of Lyme disease in the UK may be three times higher than previous estimates, according to new research. After analysing the anonymous medical records of 8.4 million people from across the UK, scientists forecast that the total number of Lyme disease diagnoses in the UK could top 8,000 in 2019, compared with previous estimates of between 2,000 and 3,000 annual diagnoses. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection, which is passed on through being bitten by an infected tick. The small spider-like creatures feed off the blood of animals and are typically found in dense, moist vegetation. Lyme disease has many symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose. Early symptoms can be similar to those of flu, and about a quarter of cases will develop a circular red rash around the bite. Full clinical diagnosis requires a blood test, but the study found that more than half of patients in 2012, the most recent year with complete data, were treated with only “suspected” or “possible” Lyme disease. If caught early, most cases can be successfully treated with antibiotics within four weeks, but the infection can lead to permanent damage to the joints and nervous system.