Parliamentary question - E-4142/2009Parliamentary question

    Orphanet database for rare diseases — Lyme-Borreliosis (ORPHA91546)

    by Anja Weisgerber (PPE)
    to the Commission

    Lyme-Borreliosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria which can attack organs, the nervous system, joints and tissue. The bacteria are transmitted primarily by ticks belonging to the genus Ixodes.

    The European Union's Orphanet database lists Lyme-Borreliosis as a rare disease, for which no statistics are given. In the European Union, diseases are generally classified as rare if fewer than 5 people in 10 000 are affected.

    Current statistics held by the German statutory health insurance funds AOK, Barmer, DAK and Techniker Krankenkasse, which provide cover for 45.1 million policy-holders — more than half the citizens of Germany — indicate that on average 0.4 % of their policy-holders are infected. That would mean that, in Germany's population of 82 million people, at least 326 680 cases occurred in 2008, as unambiguously diagnosed in the light of a migrating skin rash. As, however, only half of all infections involve a migrating skin rash, Borreliosis infection may be assumed to be twice as prevalent.

    The National Borreliosis Reference Centre in Oberschleißheim has admitted for years that 10 % of all Borreliosis cases are no longer curable, so that patients remain chronically ill. The German medical association for Borreliosis, Deutsche Borreliose-Gesellschaft e.V., assumes that more than a million people in Germany are chronic Borreliosis sufferers, many of whom do not even know what condition they are suffering from and are not undergoing therapy. The corresponding figures in many other EU Member States are similar.

    Why is the infectious disease Lyme-Borreliosis still officially classified as a rare disease, thus playing down its importance, despite the fact that current figures show this to be incorrect?

    Is there any prospect that the classification of Lyme-Borreliosis may be corrected and that the disease may in future be classified as a ‘chronic disease’, so that more public funding would be provided to tackle it?

    OJ C 10 E, 14/01/2011