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Tick management programs could help stop Lyme disease, but US funding is inadequate

0 2 years ago

Justin Bieber, Shania Twain, Amy Schumer, Avril Lavigne, Ben Stiller and Kelly Osbourne are just six of the millions of people who report that they have suffered from Lyme disease, an illness that costs the U.S. more than $3 billion annually.

Approximately a half-million new cases are added in the U.S. every year.

Much is still unknown about this potentially debilitating illness. Often referred to as the “great imitator,” Lyme disease is a tricky diagnosis because its common symptoms – fevers, chills, headaches and extreme fatigue – are similar to many other chronic diseases.

But one thing is certain: Ticks are the culprit. When they feast on human blood, they transmit the bacterial pathogen that leads to Lyme disease – a pathway similar to how mosquito bites transmit a parasite that causes malaria.

I am a postdoctoral researcher who has dedicated my career to researching ticks and the diseases they cause. Last year, for instance, I discovered that the invasive Asian longhorned tick is unlikely to cause Lyme disease in humans. As I continue to study these organisms, I’m struck by how much remains to be learned.

Why is Lyme disease less common in the US South?

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