The high numbers of mice found last summer everywhere around Hudson Valley, New York, might represent the main risk for a Lyme disease outbreak this summer, as reported by NPR.
Rick Ostfeld and Felicia Keesing, a local couple, have been studying the Lyme disease for more than 20 years. Now, they can predict when the disease may strike in any season. Ostfeld is an ecologist at the Carry Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, while Keesing is an ecologist at the Bard College.
Last summer, they came home from a trip and found mouse droppings all over their household. Besides the dropping, they also found mice lying dead on their kitchen floor. This is when they knew that, next summer, the Lyme disease risk would be higher than usual.
The mouse plague of the summer of 2016 is the main signal of the imminent strike of the disease. However, how do they know that? The explanation is easier than you might think. Mice are one of the main transmitters of Lyme disease, since they infect 95 percent of the parasitic ticks that end up on them.
Then, these ticks might become parasites on humans, so there it goes a massive Lyme disease epidemic. So, a higher number of mice leads to a higher number of infected ticks and a higher number of cases of Lyme disease.
The officials warned that only one mouse might have up to 100 ticks stuck to its ears and face. Thus, they advised people to be careful not to come into contact with mice and ticks. Also, ticks are spreading to new living areas, as people have started building homes close to forests where many mice and ticks are found.
In the 1980s, Lyme disease could be found mainly in two areas. These areas were western Wisconsin and some parts from Connecticut and New Jersey. Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that the disease spread to 260 countries.
Lyme disease is quite a big health problem in the U.S., with 300,000 cases every year. CDC officials advise people to check themselves thoroughly for ticks and, if they find one, should remove it immediately.
It takes 24 hours for infection to spread. The first symptoms of Lyme disease are rash and fever. If you experience any of this after being bitten by a tick, go see a doctor immediately.
Image Source: Pixabay