Disease & Illness

Lyme Disease Could Be A Major Problem In 2017, Scientists Warn

Make sure you're prepared.

Scientists warn that 2017 could see a spike in the number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease.

The cause? A surge in the mouse population last summer, particularly in the Northeastern U.S.

Scientists Rick Ostfeld and his wife Felicia Keesing have studied Lyme disease for nearly two decades. From this experience, they developed an early warning system, according to National Public Radio. The system ties the number of mice found the previous summer to potential new Lyme disease cases.

“An individual mouse might have 50, 60, even 100 ticks covering its ears and face,” Outfield told NPR.

With up to 95 percent of these ticks getting infected with the bacteria that causes Lyme, it means potentially bad news for us this summer.

Even though the mouse population was highest in the Northeast, that doesn’t mean the rest of the U.S. is protected.

“What’s important for people to know is that the ticks are spreading to new areas—and tick-borne diseases are coming with them,” Kiersten Kugeler of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told NPR.

The Spread of Lyme Disease

A 2015 CDC report noted that Lyme disease had spread to 260 counties on the U.S. East Coast and has started to move into the Midwest, as well.

These two CDC graphs show the quick spread of the disease over a five-year period, from 201o to 2015.

lyme2010 | CDC
Lyme Disease 2015 | CDC

Another useful tool for evaluating your risk based on where you live is this interactive map showing the occurrence of dog diseases in your area. LymeDisease.org recommends using canine-related data, since dogs tend to be routinely screened for Lyme disease and humans are not.