Monday, April 27, 2009

Climate Change and Health: Lyme Disease

Photo Credit: FDA

In a continuation of our Climate Change and Health series, today's post is about Lyme disease. Like malaria, Lyme disease is also likely to spread due to climate change. While malaria largely affects countries overseas, Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the U.S. with more than 21,000 cases reported each year. Typical symptoms for Lyme disease include fever, headache, fatigue, and a skin rash. If it is untreated, the infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.

Predicted milder winters will increase the survival of disease-carrying deer ticks, which can then infect humans. A recent study by researchers at Yale has shown that the severity of Lyme disease may increase as tick's seasonal feeding cycles changes due to climate. Currently, Lyme disease is most prevalent in the Northeast, as illustrated by the map below.

This is Part 4 of 7 in our Climate Change and Health series.
Part 1 - Climate Change and Health
Part 2 - Heat-Related Issues
Part 3 - Malaria
Part 4 - Lyme Disease
Part 5 - Mental Health
Part 6 - Water-borne Disease
Part 7 - Extreme Weather Events

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