Lyme disease risks could increase after mouse plague, experts warn


A mouse plague in the northeast Hudson River Valley in 2016 could fuel an increase in Lyme disease this year, two leading experts are warning.

New York ecologists Felicia Keesing and her husband, Rick Ostfeld, have studied the disease for two decades.

>> Read more trending news 

“We’re anticipating 2017 to be a particularly risky year for Lyme,” Ostfeld said in an interview with NPR.

The two ecologists have reported that the number of mice directly correlates with the number of Lyme cases the following year because mice are very efficient at spreading the disease.  By counting the mice, the ecologists said they can predict the number of Lyme cases.

Mice infect the ticks and ticks are drawn to mice.

“An individual mouse might have 50, 60, even 100 ticks covering its ears and face,” Ostfeld told NPR.

Lyme disease, which is caused by a bacteria, is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected,  blacklegged tick and can cause flu-like symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If the disease is left untreated, it can cause severe long-term medical problems, the CDC said, but, if caught early, it’s easily treatable with antibiotics.

The disease has spread over the past 25 years from just a small part of the northeast and a tinier area in the Midwest, into most of the northeast, a large part of the Midwest and parts of the West Coast, the CDC reported.

The agency considers is a significant public health problem.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Barrier on U.S. 183 damaged before 3 killed in crash, officials say
Barrier on U.S. 183 damaged before 3 killed in crash, officials say

The cable barrier separating the northbound and southbound lanes of U.S. 183 – where police say a suspected drunken driver crossed into oncoming lanes and slammed head-on into a family of four – had been damaged just hours before the fatal collision. Texas Department of Transportation spokesman Chris Bishop said the agency received a report...
UPDATE: SWAT situation on West Parmer Lane ends peacefully, police say
UPDATE: SWAT situation on West Parmer Lane ends peacefully, police say

4:12 p.m. update: A person came out of an apartment in the 5400 block of West Parmer Lane after a SWAT team responded to a call about the residence. The SWAT situation has now ended, police said. Earlier: An Austin police SWAT team is responding to an incident in the 5400 block of West Parmer Lane, police officials said. Police got...
Avoid serving up ‘fire bird’: Tips for a safe Thanksgiving meal
Avoid serving up ‘fire bird’: Tips for a safe Thanksgiving meal

Cooking fires occur more often on Thanksgiving Day than any other, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. To help keep your family safe, here are a few tips from the Austin Fire Department on safely deep-frying your turkeys this year: 1. Don’t use too much oil: The turkey will displace the oil in a fryer pot. So if there’s too much...
UPDATE: Texas Tech issues ‘all-clear’ message after suspicious device removed from vehicle
UPDATE: Texas Tech issues ‘all-clear’ message after suspicious device removed from vehicle

5 p.m. update: Texas Tech University has issued an ‘all-clear’ message after a suspicious device was removed from a vehicle near a dorm. University police have searched the area and are letting people return after the Talkington Hall dorm was evacuated. 4:45 p.m update: Police have evacuated a Texas Tech University dorm while...
NEW DETAILS: Barrier on U.S. 183 already damaged before 3 killed in head-on collision, officials say
NEW DETAILS: Barrier on U.S. 183 already damaged before 3 killed in head-on collision, officials say

The cable barrier separating the northbound and southbound lanes of U.S. 183 – where police say a suspected drunken driver crossed into oncoming lanes and slammed head-on into a family of four – had been damaged just hours before the fatal crash. Texas Department of Transportation spokesman Chris Bishop said the agency received a report...
More Stories