The word is out. Every indicator from acorns to temperatures indicate a record year for ticks – not just in the northeast but across the country.According to NPR and numerous other media sources, 2017 is going to be a big year for Lyme disease, and that the condition could further ravage the United States and other parts of North America.
Rick Ostfeld and Felicia Keesing, from New York have been studying Lyme disease and ways to stop it for more than 20 years. Keesing and Ostfeld have come up with an early warning system for the disease. They can predict how many cases there will be a year in advance by looking at one key measurement: Count the mice the year before.
The Hudson River Valley where the scientists live, experienced a mouse plague during the summer of 2016. The critters were everywhere. For most people, it was just a nuisance. But for Keesing and Ostfeld, the mouse plague signaled something foreboding.
“We’re anticipating 2017 to be a particularly risky year for Lyme,” Ostfeld says.
The number of critters scampering around the forest in the summer correlates to the Lyme cases the following summer, they’ve reported.
The explanation is simple: Mice are highly efficient transmitters of Lyme. They infect up to 95 percent of ticks that feed on them. Mice are responsible for infecting the majority of ticks carrying Lyme in the Northeast. And ticks love mice. “An individual mouse might have 50, 60, even 100 ticks covering its ears and face,” Ostfeld says.
So that mouse plague last year means there is going to be a Lyme plague this year. “Yep. I’m sorry to say that’s the scenario we’re expecting,” Ostfeld says.
Spread the word regarding the danger and also the best ways to prevent transmission.