Experts Predict Surge in Lyme Disease in Northeast

News articles published on March 20, 2012 warn that the mild winter will lead to a spike in Lyme Disease in the northeast.   In a previous post, we pointed out that the tick population is expected to be extremely high in 2012 because the winter has been so warm.  In fact, in March 2012 we have heard several people talking about several ticks in their yards.  I even had a tick on me while standing on a customer’s deck while I treated for stink bugs.  Thanks to the customer for pulling it off my back.  However, this article tells us that the they expect the mouse population to decrease this spring, causing the nymph ticks that normally feed on mice to seek other sources for their blood meal.  Interesting to note that the have noticed a correlation between the number of acorns and the white-footed mouse population.  White-footed mice typically feed on acorns.  The researches noticed a decrease in the acorns, a part of a normal bust and boom cycle, and predict the mouse population will decrease due to the lack of food for that species.

The story reports:  ”

Mice are the preferred host for black-legged ticks, which transmit Lyme  disease. Black-legged ticks need a bloodmeal at three different stages — as  larvae, as nymphs and as adults. As of the spring, the larval ticks that fed on  2011’s large mouse population will be looking for their nymphal meal.

“This spring, there will be a lot of Borrelia burgdorferi-infected  black-legged ticks in our forests looking for a blood meal. And instead of  finding a white-footed mouse, they are going to find other mammals — like us,”  Ostfeld added.”

This creates an interesting dynamic.  Mice have one of their main food sources decrease, which will cause their population to decrease.  Meanwhile, the mild winter is creating a large population of nymph ticks, which will need to find other mammals to feed on.

According to the Centers for Disease Control homeowners should “Consider using a professional pesticide company to apply pesticides at your home” to protect from ticks in your yard.

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