The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that tick-borne diseases are increasing at a record pace.
Although climate change cannot be directly linked to a population boom in ticks, a warming climate creates a more favorable habitat for tick reproduction, ecologist Matthias Leu told The Washington Post.
Tick bites are known to cause Lyme disease – which creates flu-like symptoms and, if left untreated, can severely harm the immune system – but the list of tick-borne diseases is growing. As the list of diseases grows, so too does the geographic range of the insects.
Some diseases, including Lyme disease, are more prevalent in warm conditions. As the average global temperature continues to rise, scientists predict that the number of Lyme disease cases in the U.S. will increase by over 20% in the coming decades.
Leu said that an increase in deer and other mammals that ticks use for meals is partially responsible for the increased tick population, too. As these mammals move into cities and feed on the plants in people’s yards, ticks are brought into closer contact with humans, and the likelihood of tick-borne diseases is greater.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources suggests wearing clothing that covers your arms and legs and wearing insect repellent in order to avoid tick-borne illnesses.