Dr. Jean Tsao

Why Lyme disease is common in the northern US but rare in the south (for now): the roles of host use, host-seeking behavior, and tick density

Dr. Jean Tsao
Michgan State University

April 20, 2022

Hosted By Graduate Student Association


Lyme disease is the leading vector-borne disease in the United States, and for decades the two main foci lie in the northeastern and north central states, although the distribution of the tick is widespread throughout much of the eastern U.S.  Several ecological hypotheses have been put forth to explain this ‘Lyme gradient’ including variation in tick host-seeking behavior, host use preference, and vertebrate biodiversity.  Here I’ll present research carried out across multiple sites and show that multiple factors probably contribute to this latitudinal gradient in disease, although certain hypotheses are stronger than others. Understanding the factors underlying this gradient is important for predicting future disease as tick populations spread and climate changes.