Acorn + Mouse = Lyme Disease?

Lyme Disease Surge Predicted for Northeastern US: Due to Acorns and Mice, Not Mild Winter

ScienceDaily (Mar. 16, 2012) — The northeastern U.S. should prepare for a surge in Lyme disease this spring. And we can blame fluctuations in acorns and mouse populations, not the mild winter. So reports Dr. Richard S. Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, NY.

What do acorns have to do with illness? Acorn crops vary from year-to-year, with boom-and-bust cycles influencing the winter survival and breeding success of white-footed mice. These small mammals pack a one-two punch: they are preferred hosts for black-legged ticks and they are very effective at transmitting Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.

“We had a boom in acorns, followed by a boom in mice. And now, on the heels of one of the smallest acorn crops we’ve ever seen, the mouse population is crashing,” Ostfeld explains. Adding, “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.”

For more than two decades, Ostfeld, Cary Institute forest ecologist Dr. Charles D. Canham, and their research team have been investigating connections among acorn abundance, white-footed mice, black-legged ticks, and Lyme disease. In 2010, acorn crops were the heaviest recorded at their Millbrook-based research site. And in 2011, mouse populations followed suit, peaking in the summer months. The scarcity of acorns in the fall of 2011 set up a perfect storm for human Lyme disease risk.

Black-legged ticks take three bloodmeals — as larvae, as nymphs, and as adults. Larval ticks that fed on 2011’s booming mouse population will soon be in need of a nymphal meal. These tiny ticks — as small as poppy seeds — are very effective at transmitting Lyme to people. The last time Ostfeld’s research site experienced a heavy acorn crop (2006) followed by a sparse acorn crop (2007), nymphal black-legged ticks reached a 20-year high.

The May-July nymph season will be dangerous, and Ostfeld urges people to be aware when outdoors. Unlike white-footed mice, who can be infected with Lyme with minimal cost, the disease is debilitating to humans. Left undiagnosed, it can cause chronic fatigue, joint pain, and neurological problems. It is the most prevalent vector-borne illness in the U.S., with the majority of cases occurring in the Northeast.

Ostfeld says that mild winter weather does not cause a rise in tick populations, although it can change tick behavior. Adult ticks, which are slightly larger than a sesame seed, are normally dormant in winter but can seek a host whenever temperatures rise several degrees above freezing. The warm winter of 2011-2012 induced earlier than normal activity. While adult ticks can transmit Lyme, they are responsible for a small fraction of tick-borne disease, with spring-summer nymphs posing more of a human health threat.

Past research by Ostfeld and colleagues has highlighted the role that intact forest habitat and animal diversity play in buffering Lyme disease risks. He is currently working with health departments in impacted areas to educate citizens and physicians about the impending surge in Lyme disease.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120316094452.htm

Bedbugs Traveling On Buses; You Can Run But You Can't Hide
Doctors in the United States should be aware of the risk of mother-to-child transmission of Chagas disease.
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Posted in Article, Bed Bugs, Ticks & Fleas, Blog, Climate Change, disease, disease carrying insects, Dog Ticks, earth, environment, Health, insects, Massachusetts, Mice, Mice & Rats, mice control, New England, News, pests, Residential Pest Control, rodent control, science, scientific study, spring insects, Summer, Travel, trees
Related Topics: , , , , ,
Do you need these pests exterminated? Call A1 Today!

 

It’s Your Yard. Defend It.

Against Mosquitoes And Ticks.

A1 Exterminators is now offering an Organic Mosquito and Tick Program.

Get the Latests News for Pest Control in New England

Bug Tip Tuesday | Remove Bugs From Car

The trick to removing dried bugs from the front of your car is in your laundry room!

Wet the front of your car and have a bucket of warm water and some fabric softener dryer sheets on hand.  Wet the dryer sheet in the warm water and scrub those bugs away.

Super easy…

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Get the Latests News for Pest Control in New England

Bug Tip Tuesday | Storing Seasonal Decor

Packing away Halloween decor?  Carefully wrap items individually and seal them properly so next 33237-sterilite-66-quart-orange-black-latch-box-set-of-4_1_375year they come back out of the box as pristine as they went in. You don’t want to find any pests have moved…

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Get the Latests News for Pest Control in New England

Bug Tip Tuesday | Fruit Fly Trap

Every fall, fruit flies seem to find their way into everyone’s home.  We all want to eat healthy and leave some fruit out on the counter for a quick grab and go snack.  Here is a simple fly trap from therealfarmhouse.com for the pesky little critters.

  • You will need a jar, a piece of paper, a piece of…
    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Get the Latests News for Pest Control in New England

Research Says Bed Bugs are Attracted to Dirty Laundry

According to new research published recently by University of Sheffield scientists Bed bugs are attracted to dirty laundry.

The study, led by Dr William Hentley from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, suggests that leaving worn clothes exposed in sleeping areas when traveling may facilitate the dispersal of bed bugs.

Bed bugs have recently…

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Get the Latests News for Pest Control in New England

Stinging Insects Still Buzzing

Stinging insects such as yellow jackets, wasps and hornets send more than 500,000 people to the emergency room each year. And, if that’s not bad enough, they become extra feisty in late summer and early fall when their colonies forage for food to sustain their queens during the winter months.

While the thought of encountering a bee hive on the…

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Get the Latests News for Pest Control in New England

Fall is Stink Bug Season

The fall season is officially here, and with it comes the resurgence of the pesky brown marmorated stink bug. Originally from Asia, this invader is now found throughout most of the continental U.S. This is partially due to its lack of natural predators. Easily identified by their mottled brownish color and distinct shield shape, stink bugs get their…

Bug Tip Tuesday | Fall Pest Prevention Tips
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Browse A1 Pest Control