Experts Share Lyme Forecast Maps To Help Prevent Disease
Mild winters are a great thing if you’re stuck in the throes of heavy snow and cold, but they lead to high rates of parasitic infection come spring and summer time, and now researchers are helping vets with a forecasting map showing what parts of the country are most at risk of Lyme infections in canines.
The map was created by University of Georgia parasitologist Michael Yabsley and Clemson University assistant professor of mathematical sciences Christopher McMahan, and shows predicted Lyme disease prevalence by county in the 48 contiguous United States. The map uses monthly data provided by information reported by veterinarians nationwide and predicts the percentage of U.S. dogs who are likely to test positive for Lyme disease.
The bacterium that causes Lyme, Borrelia burgdorferi, once was thought to be found in ticks in the northern part of the U.S. but, now, cases have been reported in southern states, particularly with warmer climates. Veterinarians generally believed that Lyme was more regionally contained in the Northeastern and Mid-Central states, but the newly released map shares data plots from a national level and shows that Lyme is also reaching Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan and Kentucky.
The researchers hope that their map will allow veterinarians to have conversations with their dog-owning clients about the possibility of Lyme disease in an effort to hopefully prevent more cases in dogs and even give humans a heads up. The researchers believe they have evidence that supports the strong relationship between canine and human Lyme disease and believe the national data will allow humans to have the information they may not have previously had. They hope to release additional data later this year that discusses the relationship between the human/canine connection.
Related: Understanding Lyme Disease Symptoms in Dogs
Symptoms of Lyme disease are like the flu virus and often misdiagnosed as such, even in dogs. Left undiagnosed or untreated, Lyme disease has long-term detrimental effects on the heart, nervous system and muscles.
More by Lori Ennis