Sunday, 24 July 2016

Lyme disease: You can't blame the deer

Date: July 21, 2016
Source: University of Oslo, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences

The last decades the disease Lyme borreliosis that is spread by ticks has been increasing, but this increase cannot be explained by the increasing deer population only.

Results from the research project TickDeer, recently published in Nature Communications, shows that the percentage of ticks with Borrelia is decreasing in areas with a high deer population (deer, red deer and moose). However, the total number of ticks is higher.

This means that the risk of catching Borrelia is not decreasing as much as one could hope for despite the "clean host," and all in all a high density of deer give a netto increase in borreliosis.

Since 1991 Norway has registered all incidents with borreliosis in a so-called MSIS-statistics for reportable diseases.

At the same time data on the wild deer population over all of Norway has been recorded. This is why Norway has a unique set of data material for comparing the relation between the disease progression over time, says professor Atle Mysterud, who led the project.

In addition the researchers at the TickDeer-project, which represent a cooperation between the Department of Biosciences (University of Oslo), Norwegian Veterinary Institute, and NIBIO, looked at how the number of deer affects the number of ticks, and in particular ticks with Borrelia. The results show that borreliosis has increased more than the density of deer would suggest.

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