Incidence of Lyme Borreliosis in the Dutch General Practice Population: A Large-Scale Population-Based Cohort Study Across the Netherlands Between 2015 and 2019

Eline Houben, Hilda de Jong, Fernie Penning-van Beest, Josephina Kuiper, Emily Holthuis, Maxim Blum, Jozica Skufca, Margarita Riera-Montes, Bradford D. Gessner, Andreas Pilz, Andrew John Vyse, Elizabeth Begier, Mendwas Dzingina, Ron Herings, James H. Stark

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Background: There is a need for updated incidence rates (IRs) of Lyme borreliosis (LB) in Europe, including the Netherlands. We estimated LB IRs stratified by geographic area, year, age, sex, immunocompromised status, and socioeconomic status (SES). Methods: All subjects registered in the PHARMO General Practitioner (GP) Database without prior diagnosis of LB or disseminated LB and having ≥1 year of continuous database enrolment were included. IRs and corresponding confidence intervals (CIs) of GP-recorded LB, erythema migrans (EM), and disseminated LB were estimated during the period 2015‒2019. Results: We identified 14,794 events (suspected, probable, or confirmed) with a diagnostic code for LB that included 8219 with a recorded clinical manifestation: 7985 (97%) with EM and 234 (3%) with disseminated LB. National annual LB IRs were relatively consistent, ranging from 111 (95% CI 106‒115) in 2019 to 131 (95% CI 126‒136) in 2018 per 100,000 person-years. Incidence of LB showed a bimodal age distribution, with peak IRs observed among subjects aged 5‒14 and 60‒69 years in men and women. Higher LB incidence was found in subjects who were residents of the provinces of Drenthe and Overijssel, immunocompromised, or of lower SES. Similar patterns were observed for EM and disseminated LB. Conclusions: Our findings confirm that LB incidence remains substantial throughout the Netherlands with no indication of decline in the past 5 years. Foci in two provinces and among vulnerable populations suggest potential initial target groups for preventive strategies such as vaccination.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-236
Number of pages7
JournalVector borne and zoonotic diseases (Larchmont, N.Y.)
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023


  • Europe
  • Lyme borreliosis
  • Netherlands
  • disseminated Lyme borreliosis
  • erythema migrans
  • incidence rate

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