Graduation Year

Spring 2014

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Environment, Economics, and Politics (EEP)

Reader 1

Emil Morhardt

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Rights Information

© 2014 Sarah D. King

Abstract

Lyme disease is one of the most common infectious diseases present in the United States today and it is clear that the changing climate will affect the geographical range of it across the country. Climate change may impact the range of the Lyme vector species, ticks, which will in turn expand the range of human risk. Although I could not successfully map the possible spread of tick populations or Lyme disease incidence as a result of climate change, my research shows a direct connection between infected tick geographic distribution and key climatic variables, such as temperature, humidity, and precipitation. It is expected that as the climate changes, particularly as it warms, the range of suitable habitat for ticks will expand into high latitudes and altitudes. The expansion of tick populations will put previously unaffected human populations at greater risk of Lyme disease. It is essential that further research be done to confirm the possible consequences of climate change on Lyme disease in the United States and to gain a more precise understanding of how and where effects will be seen. Health officials and policymakers must be informed so they can properly educate and prepare people preemptively for potential Lyme disease outbreaks.

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