Bella Hadid (L) and Justin Bieber have battled Lyme disease
SINGER Justin Bieber and model Bella Hadid are some of the few celebrities who have spoken publicly about their battle with Lyme disease.
However, new estimates suggest that up to one in seven people in the world may have had the illness.
The new findings could open up avenues to tackle the bacterial infection, which can cause headaches, muscle and joint pain and fatigue that can last for years, the MailOnline reported.
Academics from China examined blood sample data from studies involving 150,000 people, and 14.5 per cent had antibodies indicating Lyme disease.
Researchers from Kunming Medical University in China examined 89 Lyme disease studies involving 158,287 people, conducted between 1984 and 2021.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is spread through a tick bite. It causes a round rash and can trigger flu-like symptoms but usually gets better with antibiotics within weeks or months.
Symptoms also include a circle or oval-shaped rash around a tick bite, which usually appears within four weeks of being bitten, but may take up to three months to show.
The bacteria can also spread to other tissues and organs, potentially affecting the nervous system, joints, heart and skin for years.
The findings of the study were published in BMJ Global Health. According to the analysis, a fifth of people in central Europe tested positive for the disease, the highest rate, followed by Eastern Asia (15.9 per cent) and Western Europe (13.5 per cent).
Rates were lowest in the Caribbean (2 per cent) Southern Asia (3 per cent) and Oceania (5.3 per cent). The researchers also noted that tick-borne diseases have doubled over the last 12 years.
According to the study, ticks have expanded globally in recent years which increased the risk of human exposure.
A sub-analysis showed that over-50s, men and those living in rural areas were most likely to have Lyme disease. It is mainly because they were more likely to be working in jobs that make them more exposed to ticks, such as farmers, police officers and soldiers.
The team has appealed to develop new treatments and prevention methods to fight the illness.
According to MailOnline, not all ticks carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, but infected ticks can be found across the UK.
High-risk areas include grassy and wooded areas in northern and southern England, as well as the Scottish Highlands. People are advised to remove ticks safely and as soon as possible using tweezers.
The report said that around 900 Brits and 30,000 Americans were struck down every year.