New Research About Lyme-Carrying Ticks & Infection During Wintertime

New Research About Lyme-Carrying Ticks & Infection During Wintertime
2C51E07 Female deer tick on skin of human finger. Ixodes ricinus or scapularis. Close-up of parasitic mite in dynamic motion on fingertip

According to the CDC, Lyme disease is “caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and rarely, Borrelia mayonii” and it is “transmitted to humans through the bite of infected black-legged ticks.” Some of the symptoms of Lyme disease include “fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.”

This disease is not one that we want to risk getting. That’s why many outdoorsy people, like hikers, who are at a higher risk of contracting Lyme disease, postpone their outdoor activities until the winter time when it was understood that ticks aren’t out. According to a study posted in Science, recent research has found that “black-legged ticks infected with the Lyme disease–causing microbe thrive in below-freezing weather and can be active even in winter. The finding suggests the variable winter conditions brought on by climate change could increase ticks’ activity, boosting the odds that people will encounter the ticks and come down with Lyme disease.” 

According to Laura Zimmerman, an ecoimmunologist at Millikin University, there needs to be more research done to understand disease transmission with these new findings.