In the northeastern United States, warmer spring temperatures are leading to shifts in the emergence of the blacklegged ticks that carry Lyme disease and other tick-borne pathogens. At the same time, milder weather is allowing ticks to spread into new geographic regions.
Mice, chipmunks and shrews are welcoming hosts for the bacteria ticks spread. They're plentiful. They're low to the ground, so ticks can easily hop aboard. And they lack the immune systems that might compromise any infectious agents.
In the U.S., some 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease annually. Thousands also suffer from babesiosis and anaplasmosis, tick-borne ailments that can occur alone or as co-infections with Lyme disease.
While Lyme disease is usually found along coastal areas-the mid-Hudson valley, Long Island, and parts of the Jersey shore-people are now reporting tick bites further and further north into the Capital region, and even some people in the Adirondacks
Podcast A new study in New York reveals that ticks are more likely to be infected with several pathogens, not just the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. The ticks for the study were collected from Dutchess County.
Fresh off of a study that showed mice don't die any quicker as uninfected ticks pile onto them, the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies is launching research that will examine how mice fare after they get Lyme disease.
To find out how to steer clear of Lyme disease during "picnic season" - a time when people are more likely to pick up ticks - the National Science Foundation spoke with NSF-funded disease ecologist Rick Ostfeld of the Cary Institute.
With the snow melted and the weather warming, folks are finally making their way outdoors, where, if you live anywhere in the Hudson Valley, the black-footed tick that carries Lyme disease can be found.
People living in northern and central parts of the U.S. are more likely to contract Lyme disease and other tick-borne ailments when white-footed mice are abundant. Mice are effective at transferring disease-causing pathogens to feeding ticks.
What if we could vaccinate the white-footed mice that account for the majority of the transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi (the cause of Lyme disease) and significantly reduce the level of tick infection?
Initially, Rick Ostfeld’s work at the Cary Institute focused on how small mammals shape forests. Early on, he noticed a unique relationship among mice, black-legged ticks, and the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.
Given the 300,000 new cases of Lyme disease a year in the US reported by the CDC, it is understandable that health organizations and local governments in this country are extremely anxious to develop a broader, more effective tick-borne diseases control strategy.
The New Yorker reports on the controversy surrounding the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease. Columnist Michael Specter interviewed Cary disease ecologist Richard Ostfeld about the ecology of ticks and the spread of the disease.
Richard S. Ostfeld, a disease ecologist specializing in Lyme disease and West Nile Virus, said while "large advances have been made even with rather paltry funding," there needs to be "rapid improvements," such as better diagnostics for early-stage Lyme.
Video Three members of Congress joined forces with a Lyme disease advocacy group to host a forum to discuss the fight against tick-borne diseases. As a panelist, Cary's Rick Ostfeld shared his research and insights.