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Maps show the growing invasion of ticks in North America


Maps from NASA satellite data

Chilling images of the growing threat of ticks in North America are obtained from NASA satellite data.

The images accompany recent research showing that warmer climates over the past two decades have allowed deer ticks.

This ticks type carrying Lyme disease to survive and invasion further into Canada and parts of the northern United States.

The map shows how the risk of encountering Lyme-bearing ticks has changed in parts of the United States between 2000 and 2015.

Maps show the growing invasion of ticks in North America

Risk increase of tick-borne diseases

Ticks transmit a wide range of bacterial, viral, and protozoan pathogens in many tropical and temperate regions of the world.

Blacklegged ticks that transmit Borrelia burgdorferi, are of particular concern in North America.

This bacterium causes Lyme disease in the southern-eastern and central Canada.

It is now widely recognized that the rise in temperature associated with the global climate change has contributed to an overall increase Ticks.

This increase, include the number, types, activity levels, and geographical distribution of ticks in North America.

Also, it has directly favored the invasion of blacklegged ticks and Lyme disease northwards into Canada.

Model to map invasion of several tick kinds

A set of researchers led by Serge Olivier Kotchi of the Public Health Agency of Canada published their study in the journal Remote Sensing.

They created a model to map the invasion of Ixodes scapulae, the black-legged deer tick, and main vector of Lyme disease.

The studies are established across central and eastern Canada between the years 2000 and 2015.

This modeling was based on meteorological data collected by NASA and other satellites.

It measures the surface temperature of the region and the frequency with which it was covered by woody vegetation throughout the year.

It was then adjusted using previous field research that has tracked tick populations in Canada over time.

Warmer periods allowed ticks survival

  • Ticks survival in Canada

As other research has shown, warmer days (days above 32 degrees Fahrenheit) have become more frequent in Canada over time.

And these warmer periods have allowed ticks that might have died in the coldest parts of the year to survive into the next season.

As a result, the environmental risk of encountering these ticks has continued to increase in these areas, particularly in Ontario and Quebec.


Ticks survival in Canada

"Ixodes scapulae continue to expand geographically in south-central and southeastern Canada.

This is accompanied by continued increases [in the] incidence of human cases of Lyme disease," the authors wrote.

"Climate change, with increasing temperatures, is thought to facilitate this range expansion."

This recent study suggests that the risk of contracting Lyme disease has steadily increased over the years in central and eastern Canada.

The red areas represent the highest risk.

While the main findings of the study concern Lyme risk in Canada, the same trends are occurring nearby in the United States.

  • Ticks survival in United States

The following information is reported from a paper published today by NASA Earth Observatory on Kotchi's study.

The study illustrates how tick risk has changed in the central and northeastern United States over the same years.

Other data showed that Lyme disease and other tick diseases have been on the rise in the United States in general.

The data is from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

While Lyme was first discovered and is still most commonly diagnosed in the north-eastern United States, cases are starting to become more common elsewhere.

Earlier this year, a study found that the bacteria that cause Lyme disease even thrive in vegetation near the beaches of northern California.

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