The number of Americans with tick-borne diseases reached a record high of nearly 60,000 in 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
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The 60,000 reported cases of tick-borne diseases last year is likely much lower than the actual number.
"The true number of cases is probably 10 times that," Dr. John Aucott, director of the Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Research Center and chair of the federal Tick-Borne Disease Working Group, told NBC News.
A report issued Wednesday by the working group says that state and federal agencies need to increase funding to track, prevent and treat tick-borne diseases.
"There are more cases. Every year, the geographic distribution expands," Aucott told NBC News.
The working group was created in 2016 and this is its first report.
"There are so many questions out there that haven't been answered," Aucott said."We heard comments from hundreds and hundreds of patients. It is obvious that this is a real problem, that people are really suffering."
The reasons for the rise in tick-borne diseases is unclear, according to the CDC.
"A number of factors can affect tick numbers each year, including temperature, rainfall, humidity, and host populations such as mice and other animals," the CDC said in its report on the number of new cases, NBC News reported.
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