Lyme disease, a common tick-borne disease of humans, is on the rise in Illinois. Lyme disease affects skin, musculoskeletal, cardiac, and central nervous systems which can lead to long-term and permanent severe joint pain and neurological damage. The number of cases of Lyme disease in Illinois has risen over time. Distribution and expansion of the tick (I. scapularis) responsible for spreading the disease is changing along river corridors, agricultural, urban, and natural landscapes. Identifying the spread of this tick, its habitat use, and population dynamics are key to addressing this health issue.
PRI projects have focused on understanding the distribution of I. scapularis throughout the Chicago metropolitan region of Illinois and the habitat use of the tick in natural areas. Multidisciplinary and interinstitutional approaches were designed to study Lyme disease and the distribution of the ticks in Illinois. Researchers have found that the ticks are no longer limited to forested areas.
Researchers provide information through journals and other public outreach mechanisms that foster public awareness about the potential exposure to vector ticks and tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease. These efforts impact every person that enjoys and uses the outdoors, provide evidence for developing disease prevention efforts, and support public health agencies in the management of a very complicated disease.
Contact: Nohra Mateus-Pinilla