How Climate Change Affects the Spread of Lyme Disease
The warming world can be a hospitable place for blacklegged ticks, which carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. They thrive in temperatures at or above 7.2º C (45º F) and at 82% or greater humidity (the warmer and wetter, the better). As climate change steadily bakes the planet—with shorter, milder winters and longer, hotter summers and springs—the range of places with those conditions is growing. However, climate change is actually making some parts of the world less hospitable to ticks. Extreme weather leads to droughts (which causes ticks to dry out and die) as well as a lack of snow cover (which the species needs to provide insulation as they spend the winter burrowed beneath leaf cover). [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Is climate change a net benefit or loss to ticks in their quest to feast on humans (and sometimes infect them with Lyme disease and other illnesses)? The answer is more complicated than the simple formula of “warmth equals ticks equals disease” would suggest. It’s true that the ticks that pass along Lyme disease—which afflicts more than 475,000 Americans each year—are expanding their geographical range, and climate change is one reason why. “We’re observing that the tick is moving more into Canada, and higher temperatures do appear to be a key factor,” says Dr. Vishnu Laalitha Surapaneni, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Minnesota Medic...
Source: TIME: Health - Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Jeffrey Kluger Tags: Uncategorized climate change Disease healthscienceclimate Source Type: news
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