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More Mice Last Summer Could Mean More Ticks & Lyme Disease This Summer in Southeastern Massachusetts

My Fox Boston reported last week that 2017 is expected to be a hazardous year for Lyme Disease. The reason? Mice. An increase in mouse populations in 2016 is a key indicator for the tick population and Lyme disease risk the following summer. Ecologist’s count the mice and use those numbers to predict the number of Lyme cases the following summer.

Ticks are attracted to mice for their first blood meal, where they can be infected with Borrelia Burgdorferi – the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Each mouse could have 50-100 ticks covering its face and ears. When those ticks drop off their mouse host, they then quest for their next meal, larger mammals, and humans, spreading Lyme disease through tick bites.

In the detailed report from NPR, Lyme experts share the details about why mice populations are exploding and where and how people are most often contracting Lyme disease.

More Mice = More Ticks = More Lyme Disease

The landscape in the Northeast has recovered many forests that were previously clear-cut by early settlers. But the results are much different, leaving small pockets of forests in between farms, roads, and subdivisions. In these small forests, there are fewer foxes, owls, and hawks to eat the mice. Leaving the remaining forests packed with mice who reproduce freely and thrive in the new landscape.

The CDC’s Kiersten Kugeler says, “In the Northeast, most people catch Lyme around their homes. People are out gardening. People playing in their backyard. Mowing the lawn.”

Step Up Your Lyme Prevention Efforts

In 2015 Lyme disease was declared an epidemic in Massachusetts, meaning this increase in ticks requires an immediate response with improved Lyme prevention activities.

Lyme disease prevention in Fall River and the South Shore is a multi-faceted effort. We recommend following the CDC’s daily recommendations for preventing Lyme disease: wear repellent, check for ticks daily, shower soon after being outdoors, call your doctor if you get a fever, rash or other symptoms of Lyme.

Follow the 6 C’s of tick control in your yard. And for additional peace of mind enroll in Mosquito Squad of Fall River or Mosquito Squad of South Shore’s seasonal tick control program. With the combination of tick treatment for your yard and tick tubes for long-term population control, you can lower the population of ticks on your property by as much as 85-90%.

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