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.