Thinking of Lyme Disease, the fear is instantly ticks, perhaps even deer. New studies are suggesting that White-footed mice are effective transmitters of Lyme Disease in the the Northeast, it is believed that up to 95% of the ticks that feed on them get infected.
Initial steps in preventing Lyme Disease in many communities has been controlling the deer population, but it does get more complicated than that as research is showing other vectors for Lyme.
“Mother ticks cannot pass B. burgdorferi on to the 2,000 eggs they lay in the spring. Thus, when ticks hatch into larvae in the summer, they are un-infected. To move on to the next stage of life, a tick larva must find a source of blood for its first meal.” -Hannah Foster, Entomologist.
Rick Ostfeld, an ecologist with the Cary institute, has a system for anticipating how risky a “Lyme Season” will be. Ostfeld’s system simply looks at the number of mice the year before when there are more mice, correspondingly there will be more ticks. A single mouse could have 50-100 ticks at a time covering their face and ears, ticks love to feed on mice. The fear for 2017 being a higher risk year is based off the 2016 mouse plague in some areas of the country. It is unsure which areas will be at the highest risk, but the scenario expected is there to be higher instances of Lyme Disease in 2017 overall.
NPR has public the audio from their news story with Ostfeld:
Regardless of predictions, it is important to know that Lyme Disease can be in other areas than just the Northeast United States, and to be mindful of ticks throughout the summer during your outdoor activities. Typically once a tick embeds itself to the skin, it can take 24hours for an infection to spread, the sooner you are aware of the tick the better. If you suspect Lyme Disease, or show any early symptoms go to your Doctor as soon as possible as the sooner it is treated the more likely you will be to have a full recovery.