There are more and more cases of Lyme disease reported in the United States and health officials fear that things will get even worse, especially since there were cases reported in regions that were not affected by the disease in the past. A team of researchers conducted a study to determine why Lyme disease is spreading all across the U.S.
According to the new study, black-legged ticks, which are the main carriers of Lyme disease, have started to migrate to different parts of the country. Scientists found that the black-legged ticks are moving northward.
A recent report shows that there are more than 300,000 cases of Lyme disease every year in the U.S. The main culprit is the black-legged tick which transmits the disease through its bite. Also, the rise of Lyme disease cases is due to the fact that the ticks are moving towards places that were previously free of them.
The new study was conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania in collaborations with biologists from the New York Department of Health and the State University of New York. According to their study, black-legged ticks are migrating from the south to northern regions of the country.
In order to understand how the ticks migrate, the researchers used phylogeographic and genetic analysis. The study suggests that recent migrations of the black-legged ticks occurred due to short-distance local moves.
By discovering how the ticks make their short local moves, the experts could find ways of controlling Lyme disease. Dr. Camilo E. Khatchikian, one of the scientists who conducted the study, explained that the new study provided them with important data like the direction, timing and rate of the ticks’ migration. Dr. Dustin Brisson, the lead author of the study, said that it’s very crucial to understand the migratory process of the ticks in order to find a way to reduce the cases of Lyme disease.
The new study didn’t find any association between the ticks’ recent migration and climate change. However, a previous study which analyzed data collected for more than 19 years, suggests that the warming temperatures may be responsible for the ticks moving north. The study revealed that climate change influenced the migration of the ticks as well as driving them to move to different regions.
The researchers wrote about their findings in the latest edition of the journal Evolution.
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