Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Climate Change Linked to Spread of Lyme Disease

Climate
Climate Change Linked to Spread of Lyme Disease

As if we needed another reason to deplore the impacts of climate change, its warming effects are encouraging the northward spread of Lyme disease, carried by the black-legged tick which rides on deer, rodents and dogs, the Daily Climate reports. While common in the U.S., it was rare in Canada until recently. Because of that, Canadians eventually diagnosed with the disease were delayed in getting appropriate treatment.

The range of the black-legged tick, which carries Lyme disease, is expanding north due to the warming effects of climate change.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

But with more attention comes more action. This summer legislation to promote Lyme prevention and timely diagnosis and treatment passed the House of Commons by unanimous consent.

"So many members of Parliament have been hearing these stories that are heartbreaking," said Green Party sponsor Elizabeth May.

The number of cases reported in the U.S. has nearly tripled from 1991 to 2013. The range of the disease, initially identified in Connecticut in 1977, is found primarily in a cluster of northern states. The U.S. Environmental Protection Association added it to its list of climate change indicators this year.

And back in 2005, Canadian researcher Nicholas Ogden published a report, "Climate change and the potential for range expansion of the Lyme disease vector Ixodes scapularis [the tick associated with Lyme disease] in Canada." It mapped potential tick habitat growth in the 2020s, 2050s and 2080s under two greenhouse gas emissions scenarios.

"The projected degrees of theoretical range expansion and increased tick survival by the 2020s suggest that actual range expansion of I. scapularis may be detectable within the next two decades," he concluded. "Seasonal tick activity under climate change scenarios was consistent with maintenance of endemic cycles of the Lyme disease agent in newly established tick populations. The geographic range of I. scapularis-borne zoonoses may, therefore, expand significantly northwards as a consequence of climate change this century."

Last year, 500 cases of Lyme disease were reported across Canada, but Canada's Public Health Agency (PHA) predicts 10,000 cases annually by the 2020s thanks to warmer temperatures that increase the size of the favorable habitat for the tick. Warming also speeds up the tick's life cycle meaning that more ticks survive to reproduce.

"The spread of Lyme disease is driven, in part, by climate change, as the tick vector spreads northwards from endemic areas of the United States," said Steven Sternthal, acting director of the PHA's infectious diseases prevention and control branch.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

How Climate Change Exacerbates the Spread of Disease, Including Ebola

Evidence Shows Warming Climate Will Worsen Malaria Epidemic

You Might Be Allergic to Climate Change

Kevin Russ / Moment / Getty Images

By Kang-Chun Cheng

Modoc County lies in the far northeast corner of California, and most of its 10,000 residents rely on cattle herding, logging, or government jobs for employment. Rodeos and 4-H programs fill most families' calendars; massive belt buckles, blue jeans, and cowboy hats are common attire. Modoc's niche brand of American individualism stems from a free-spirited cowboy culture that imbues the local ranching conflict with wild horses.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Christian Aslund / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Anne-Sophie Brändlin

COVID-19 and climate change have been two of the most pressing issues in 2020.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Artist's impression of an Othalo community, imagined by architect Julien De Smedt. Othalo

By Victoria Masterson

Using one of the world's problems to solve another is the philosophy behind a Norwegian start-up's mission to develop affordable housing from 100% recycled plastic.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Brett Wilkins

Despite acknowledging that the move would lead to an increase in the 500 million to one billion birds that die each year in the United States due to human activity, the Trump administration on Friday published a proposed industry-friendly relaxation of a century-old treaty that protects more than 1,000 avian species.

Read More Show Less
U.S. returns create about 15 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. manonallard / Getty Images

Many people shop online for everything from clothes to appliances. If they do not like the product, they simply return it. But there's an environmental cost to returns.

Read More Show Less