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Lyme Disease

0 2 years ago

Lyme disease is a bacterial illness that can cause fever, fatigue, joint pain, and skin rash, as well as more serious joint and nervous system complications. Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease (that is, a disease transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks, or fleas) in the United States. In recent years, approximately 20,000–30,000 confirmed cases of Lyme disease per year have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the actual number of illnesses is likely greater than what is reported to health officials. Lyme disease is transmitted through the bite of certain species of infected ticks (referred to commonly as deer ticks) that carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. These ticks live not only on deer, but also on rodents, birds, and other host animals. Deer do not harbour the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, but certain other hosts such as white-footed mice do, and ticks pick up the bacteria by feeding on these infected hosts. Climate is just one of many important factors that influence the transmission, distribution, and incidence of Lyme disease; however, studies provide evidence that climate change has contributed to the expanded range of ticks, increasing the potential risk of Lyme disease, such as in areas of Canada where the ticks were previously unable to survive. The life cycle and prevalence of deer ticks are strongly influenced by temperature. For example, deer ticks are most active when temperatures are above 45˚F, and they thrive in areas with at least 85-per cent humidity. Thus, warming temperatures associated with climate change are projected to increase the range of suitable tick habitats and are therefore one of the multiple factors driving the observed spread of Lyme disease. Because tick activity depends on temperatures being above a certain minimum, shorter winter could also extend the period when ticks are active each year, increasing the time that humans could be exposed to Lyme disease. Unlike some other vector-borne diseases, tick-borne disease patterns are generally less influenced by short-term changes in weather (weeks to months) than by longer-term climate change. Other factors that affect the number of Lyme disease cases include changes in the populations of host species (particularly deer), which affect tick population size. The percentage of ticks that are infected depends on the prevalence and infection rates of white-footed mice and certain other hosts. Host species populations and habitats can be affected by climate change and other ecosystem disturbances. Human exposure to infected ticks is also influenced by multiple factors, including changes in the proximity of human populations to ticks and other hosts, increased awareness of Lyme disease, and modified behaviours, such as spending less time outdoors, taking precautions against being bitten, and checking more carefully for ticks. People who work outdoors, like farmers and landscapers, maybe especially be at risk

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