Rising temperatures may bring growing Lyme disease risk

The white-footed mouse, pictured here near La Joya, N.M., has seen its population and range grow in recent years. ©J. N. Stuart

Climate change may mean wildlifers will have to be more careful about protecting themselves from Lyme disease when they’re out in the field.

An article in the Washington Post suggests that warmer temperatures have been beneficial for the white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus). The species often carries Borrelia burgorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, and passes it on to blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis), better known as deer ticks, when it’s bitten. Deer tick bites spread the disease to humans and other animals. Warmer weather may also be allowing invasive rodent species, which also transmit the disease, to survive.

The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies is predicting a rise in reported Lyme disease cases along the Eastern Seaboard this year.

Read the article in the Washington Post.