Lyme disease and the wilderness-urban interface in North Carolina and Virginia
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Lyme, a tick-borne disease, has been endemic in Northeastern America for decades. However, with changing development patterns it is becoming a concern in areas where it was not previously endemic. Areas with high herbaceous- forest edges are a perfect environment for the white-footed mouse, a reservoir for the pathogen, and deer which carry ticks. As more suburban neighborhoods are developed around wooded areas, the environment becomes ideal for Lyme transmission. Abandoned development projects resulting from the housing decline also create this environment. In this project, I will use land cover data to identify the wilderness- urban interface and layer it with climate data as well as current Lyme incidence in order to determine areas at risk of increased Lyme incidence in Virginia and North Carolina based on the intersection of factors that are hospitable to Lyme. This information could be used to determine which areas need education programs and where doctors should be watchful of the variety of symptoms that Lyme can present by bringing attention to emerging high-risk areas.