Four facts about tick-borne illness

Cary Institute scientists have been investigating the ecology of Lyme disease and other tick-borne ailments for more than 20 years. Here are some important tick facts to remember this summer.

A single tick bite can give you more than one infection.

This is because blacklegged ticks can carry multiple pathogens, among them Lyme disease, babesiosis, and anaplasmosis.

Disease risk is tied to rodent populations.

Long-term research at the Cary Institute has found when white-footed mice and chipmunks abound, so does the number of infected blacklegged ticks.

Intact habitats are healthier.

We’ve also discovered that fragmented forests harbor more infected ticks than larger intact forests. This is because small forests have lower animal diversity, fewer predators, and an abundance of white-footed mice.

Predators and opossums make good neighbors.

Predators, such as fox, control white-footed mouse numbers. And opossums are incredibly effective at killing ticks when they groom, eliminating thousands of blacklegged ticks weekly during the summer months.

 

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