In Finland, the routine surveillance of Lyme borreliosis (LB) is laboratory-based. In addition, we have well established national health care registers where countrywide data from patient visits in public health care units are collected. In our previous study based on these registers, we reported an increasing incidence of both microbiologically confirmed and clinically diagnosed LB cases in Finland during the past years. Here, we evaluated our register data, refined LB incidence estimates provided in our previous study, and evaluated treatment practices considering LB in the primary health care.
Three national health care registers were used. The Register for Primary Health Care Visits (Avohilmo) and the National Hospital Discharge Register (Hilmo) collect physician-recorded data from the outpatient and inpatient health care visits, respectively, whereas the National Infectious Diseases Register (NIDR) represents positive findings in LB diagnostics notified electronically by microbiological laboratories. We used a personal identification number in register-linkage to identify LB cases on an individual level in the study year 2014. In addition, antibiotic purchase data was retrieved from the Finnish Social Insurance Institution in order to evaluate the LB treatment practices in the primary health care in Finland.
Avohilmo was found to be useful in monitoring clinically diagnosed LB (i.e. erythema migrans (EM) infections), whereas Hilmo did not add much value next to existing laboratory-based surveillance of disseminated LB. However, Hilmo gave valuable information about uncertainties related to physician-based surveillance of disseminated LB and the total annual number of EM infections in our country. Antibiotic purchases associated with the LB-related outpatient visits in the primary health care indicated a good compliance with the recommended treatment guidelines.
Avohilmo and laboratory-based NIDR together are useful in monitoring LB incidence in Finland. A good compliance was observed with the recommended treatment guidelines of clinically diagnosed LB in the primary health care. In 2018, Avohilmo was introduced in the routine surveillance of LB in Finland next to laboratory-based surveillance of disseminated LB.