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FEATURE ARTICLE

The Ecology of Lyme-Disease Risk

Complex interactions between seemingly unconnected phenomena determine risk of exposure to this expanding disease

Richard Ostfeld

In the past two decades, people living in the northeastern, north central and western United States have unwittingly entered a dangerous cycle of disease usually restricted to wildlife. Due to a complicated sequence of events, people have become frequent accidental hosts for ticks and the disease agents they carry, including the agent that causes Lyme disease. In this article the author provides an ecological analysis to explain where the disease comes from and why it has emerged so rapidly. His studies have shown how scientists can predict the regions that are likely to become habitats for the disease-carrying ticks, making it easier for people to avoid them.


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