Lizards may buffer humans from contracting Lyme’s disease

Researchers found that ticks that specialized on skinks (pictured species is Western green lizard (Lacerta bilineata). Credit: Javier Ábalos

Lizards may unwittingly shield humans from contracting Lyme’s disease by being the preferred meal for ticks in the U.S. Southeast. Researchers had long wondered why Lyme’s disease cases are higher in northeastern states than in the southeastern ones, despite the same tick species occurring in both regions. But analysis on which types of hosts ticks specialize on revealed that in the Southeast, the insects come into contact with skinks more often. Skinks can carry Lyme’s disease, but they aren’t that good at transmitting it to ticks, which could then pass the disease onto humans. In contrast, northeastern ticks focus more on mice, which are better transmitter s of Lyme’s.

Read more at Science Magazine.