Tick-borne Lyme disease exploding into Michigan; human cases up 5-fold
They're already back.
All it took was an unusual February warm spell this past week for the tiny insects causing an increasingly big problem in Michigan to become active once again, beginning their hunt for blood.
"A student in the medical entomology lab just brought in six adult blacklegged ticks — three male and three female — that were collected by his dog (Tuesday) in Lansing," said Jean Tsao, an associate professor in Michigan State University's departments of fisheries and wildlife and large animal clinical sciences.
The ticks are of interest because of what they often carry with them: the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. When the ticks bite an animal, seeking a blood meal, that bacteria can transfer. And that bacteria, in dogs, horses and humans, can cause Lyme disease, a serious affliction that can be permanently debilitating for people when it's not treated early and well.
Tsao is a co-author of a recently published research paper documenting Lyme disease's rapid spread into Michigan in recent years. There were fewer than 30 human cases of Lyme disease reported in Michigan in any year between 2000 and 2004. By 2009, the number had jumped to 90 reported cases. By 2013, it was 166 cases.