Ecological change, not evolution, led to tick and Lyme disease explosion


In New York, researchers from Yale University, Johns Hopkins University, and Columbia University are using genome sequencing to analyze the genomes of almost 150 B. burgdorferi s.s. representatives from infected ticks collected in the US and Canada over nearly 30 years to understand their migration in North America. What they found is migration occurring not only from the Northeast to other areas in North America but migrating on a continental scale and many regions that are potential host sites for ticks and future Lyme disease.

Their study also indicates that the recent spread of Lyme disease wasn’t caused by evolution of the species but instead was driven by North America’s ecological change starting in the colonial period. They attributed climate change, deforestation, intensive hunting and population explosion of white-tailed deer to helping increase the spread of ticks and Lyme disease.