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April signifies the start of many things. Spring break comes to a close and classes begin once more, flowers start to bloom as the weather warms up, and ecologists begin documenting the mice population and predicting the Lyme Disease forecast. While searching for a means to halt the Lyme Disease epidemic, two Cary Institute ecologists have determined an early warning season for the summer Lyme season. Using this method, Felicia Keesing and Risk Ostfeld have been able to predict the strength of a Lyme season a full year in advance.
What’s their secret? The number of mice scampering about directly correlates to the number of Lyme cases the following summer.
Mice are highly efficient transmitters of Lyme. They infect nearly 95 percent of ticks that feed upon them. Furthermore, mice are responsible for infecting the majoring of ticks on the East Coast. “An individual mouse might have 50, 60, even 100 ticks covering its ears and face,” Ostfeld says.
Last summer, the Hudson Valley River experienced a mouse plague. So, in other words, a Lyme Disease plague will occur this year. It’s impossible to tell which areas of the Northeast will be at the highest risk, but it’s important for everyone to stay vigilant. Since the mid-nineties, the number of Lyme Disease cases have tripled. It’s only likely that this number will keep rising.
To ensure that you’re not infected, check daily for ticks. When you take a shower look for tiny ticks in common hiding spots, the scalp, behind the ears, the armpits and in the groin area. Educate yourself on the warning signs of Lyme Disease and visit your physician at the first sign. Because we’ve talked about the difficulties of receiving a Lyme Disease diagnosis, be persistent with your doctor.
A large factor in living a healthy lifestyle is staying active and being outside. Don’t let this forecast hold you back from the things you love. If you stay prepared and vigilant, this storm may just pass you by.
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