lyme disease map
Ticked Off

Lyme Disease Won’t Stop Spreading And It’s All Mice’s Fault

If you planned on leaving the house with your family thing spring, The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention has an unfortunate map to share with you. They found the number of confirmed Lyme disease cases has more than doubled since 2001 and 2017 is set to be the worst year. As if you needed another reason to hate them, mice are mostly to blame.

In the 1980s (or “back in your day,” if you prefer) Lyme was confined to a few areas — western Wisconsin and parts of Connecticut and New Jersey. But since the 1990s the number of reported cases have tripled to 30,000 a year, and the CDC suspects it’s likely more. So what the hell happened? Rick Ostfeld and Felicia Keesing, a married team of ecologists, explained to NPR the increase is likely due a combination of global warming and habitat destruction. The more humans build homes in forests, the more mice disperse and infect up to 95 percent of ticks. It’s kind of like the saying goes: If you give a mouse a cookie, they’ll give you Lyme disease.

if you give a mouse a cookie

Before you freak out, this forecast doesn’t mean you have to cancel your camping trip. The CDC estimates only about 14 states account for 95 percent of Lyme incidences — mostly the Northeast, the Midwest, and part of the East and West Coasts. So if you live in or are visiting one of these areas, just take the proper precautions. Wear insect repellants and stay vigilant about checking your kid for ticks, which is also a great way to feel like a gorilla dad. It’s crucial to find ticks within 24 hours to possible avoid infection, which can become chronic if left unattended. So maybe get your partner to check your dad bod too. It can’t be any hairier than the alternatives.

[H/T] NPR