We have all heard of the dreaded illness known as Lyme disease. This disease is spread to humans via the blacklegged tick. The Centers for Disease Control Estimates that three hundred thousand people per year become infected with Lyme disease. There is exists another type of Lyme spreading tick, but luckily, this second tick, Ixodes affinis, does not bite humans. However, I. affinis does bite and infect many different animals, which could bring Lyme disease pathogens to more parts of the United States.
A recent article published in the Journal of Medical Entomology has stated that more and more birds are becoming infected with Lyme through I. affinis bites. If this trend continues the infected birds could fly to a region where the population is currently not at risk for Lyme disease. The birds could potentially spread Lyme disease pathogens to any corner of the US.
Even though the I. affinis does not infect humans, other animals could become infected with Lyme by this tick. The birds can also transport ticks to other parts of the US, and that includes the type of ticks that can infect humans with Lyme disease. Currently cases of Lyme disease are rising dramatically. The CDC has confirmed several cases of Lyme disease in Virginia, and the southeastern US is believed to become vulnerable soon.
Have you ever picked a tick off of your body? If you have did you become sick?