Lyme Disease & Acorns

Lyme Disease is a serious bacterial infection that is transmitted to humans by particular types of ticks. Studies have found that people are more likely to get Lyme disease when there are many acorns. The reason being, mice and deer, which carry the Lyme disease and also carry ticks, feed on acorns. The more acorns usually mean the more mice and deer, which makes it easier for a large population of ticks to flourish. In some forests, there can be more than 100 acorns per square meter. Explanation of the ties between acorns and Lyme disease as per disease ecologist Rick Ostfeld: “The ticks that are emerging as larvae in August — just as the mice and chipmunks are reaching their population peaks — have tons of excellent hosts to feed from. They survive well and they get infected with tick-borne pathogens and that means that two years following a good acorn crop we see high abundance of infected ticks, which represents a risk of human exposure to tick borne disease.” In 2009 there were almost 40,000 cases of Lyme disease in the U.S, 95% of the confirmed Lyme disease cases came from 14 states, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Knowing the connections between acorns, deer, mice, and ticks, ecologists are able to predict the likelihood of infection and let people know when they need to be more careful when they are outdoors.