The Effect of Climate Change on the Ixodes Tick Success Rate of Transmitting Lyme Disease

by Shannon O’Neill

The potential for a rapid increase of the geographical distribution of ticks and tick-borne pathogens with increasing temperatures is a major public health issue. Therefore, the relationships between the tick, pathogen, hosts, and each of their environments must be better understood in order to effectively manage future outbreaks. Climate change is often considered to be a driving force of increased tick-borne disease. However, the effects of climate on disease are difficult to distinguish from other potential causes. Ostfeld and Brunner (2015) specifically studied the Ixodes tick that spreads Lyme disease in an effort to discern why this tick and the pathogens it transmits have continued to increase with warmer temperatures. The researchers first identified environmental factors for the current tick distribution, then used these factors as a predictor of future suitable tick habitats with climatic changes. Finally, they looked at how various environmental factors sustain both tick populations and the pathogens they transmit. Continue reading