Lyme Disease in Westchester County, New York

Lyme disease is currently the most commonly reported vector-borne disease in the United States. More than 80% of reported U.S. cases have occurred in the Northeast. In this region, residential development within recently reforested suburban areas has brought an increased number of people into closer contact with the tick vector, Ixodes scapularis, and consequently to the Lyme disease agent, Borrelia burgdorferi. This species of tick and its natural hosts (e.g., deer and small vertebrates) are associated with particular landscape features, e.g., forested habitat. High densities of white-tailed deer, the most important host of the adult-stage tick, are supported by the residential-forest landscape, which contains preferred forage in an abundance of edge habitat and ornamental plantings. Mice and other small vertebrates are common hosts of the juvenile stage of the tick, and many of these hosts also serve as reservoirs of the disease.

At CHAART, satellite remote sensing (RS) data and GIS technology have been used to identify and map landscape characteristics related to exposure risk for Lyme disease in two separate studies in Westchester County, New York. The eventual goal of this research is to develop a satellite RS/GIS model for prediction of Lyme disease risk that can be used by public health agencies in their efforts to reduce disease incidence. This approach will allow such agencies to efficiently target limited resources where they are needed most.

Study 1
: Lyme disease exposure in dogs and landscape composition by muncipality

Study 2
: Landscape characterization of high and low-risk residential properties

For more information about this research, contact Louisa Beck

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Last updated: July 2001