Lyme Disease Surge Predicted For Northeastern US: Due To Acorns And Mice, Not Mild Winter
Lyme disease is going to plague the northeastern US this spring. The blame can be put on the relationship of the acorns and mouse population, not the mild winter. Dr. Richard S. Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, explains that acorns are the main success why white-footed mice thrive especially in the winter survival. These rodents are not harmful themselves but what they are carrying is dangerous. They are hosts for the black-legged ticks which are known to be carriers of Borreliaburgdorferi, the causative bacterium of Lyme disease.
Acorn crops vary from year to year. With a boom in these crops, the mice population also booms. Dr. Ostfeld further reports that there will be one of the smallest crop yield this year. There will be dire consequences for the mice population. Instead of finding the white-footed mice, the black-legged tick will go and find other mammals including humans. Dr. Ostfeld and Dr. Charles D. Canham, forest ecologist of Cary Institute, investigated connections among the acorns, mice, ticks and the Lyme disease for two decades. They have records of the acorn crop yield including the records of the fall of 2011 where acorn scarcity set up the perfect condition for Lyme disease devastation.
Dr. Ostfeld further reports May-July nymph season is dangerous. Of all the stages in its life cycle, the nymph is the most effective in transmitting Lyme disease to the people. He recommends that people should be aware when outdoors. Lyme disease is a debilitating disease which can cause joint pains, chronic fatigue and neurological problems. He also advocated to educated citizens and physicians about this impending surge together with health departments.
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