Lyme Disease Propelled by Borrelia burgdorferi-Infected Blacklegged Ticks, Wild Birds and Public Awareness - Not Climate Change

TitleLyme Disease Propelled by Borrelia burgdorferi-Infected Blacklegged Ticks, Wild Birds and Public Awareness - Not Climate Change
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsScott, J, Scott, CM
JournalJ Veter Sci Med
Volume6
Issue1
Date Published03/2018
Keywordsbird migration, blacklegged tick, borrelia burgdorferi, climate change, Ixodes scapularis, Lyme disease, overwinter temperatures, songbirds
Abstract

The blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis, is of major public health importance as a vector of Borrelia burgdorferi, the causal organism of Lyme disease. Migratory songbirds are involved in short- and long- distance transport of bird-feeding ticks, and play a vital role in the wide dispersal of I. scapularis and the epidemiology of Lyme disease. Because northern latitudes generally have a thick blanket of snow each winter, the blacklegged tick withstands phenomenal outdoor temperature uctuations. However, when the snow cover is lost in the core months of winter, due to subtle periods of warmer temperatures, we discovered that overwinter survival declined signi cantly. Photoperiod is a limiting factor in the pole-ward expansion and establishment of I. scapularis because immature stages of I. scapularis will not molt in late summer when photoperiod shortens quickly. As more and more people become aware of ticks and their associated pathogens, people submit more ticks for identi cation and testing. As a result, public awareness becomes a driver in the recognition of Lyme disease, and the number of human cases reported. When it comes to I. scapularis ticks, climate change is a triviality. Health professionals must be aware that Lyme disease and tick- associated diseases are a signi cant public health burden, and include them in their differential diagnosis.
Introduction
Lyme disease, caused by the spirochetal bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, is typically transmitted to humans by ixodid

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