The numbers of human cases of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases reported each year to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been increasing steadily in the United States, currently totaling tens of thousands of diagnosed human cases annually. The reasons behind this increase are complex and involve multiple factors including:
- ecological changes, possibly including climate change, and shifts in land use patterns;
- increasing deer and wildlife populations and closer associations between humans and wildlife;
- human behavioral changes that have led to greater exposure risks; and
- improvements in disease diagnosis, surveillance, and reporting practices.
A group of agencies led by EPA and CDC have prepared this white paper in order to maximize the effectiveness of the various efforts to reduce the number of tick-borne diseases in the United States. The group has established milestones for the purpose of increasing cross-agency interaction, which will increase efficiency and effectiveness, ultimately leading to a reduction in the incidence of tick-borne diseases in humans. The group also suggests the following performance measures:
- develop a national survey for tick abundance and distribution;
- develop a decision support model for cost-effectiveness of prevention;
- develop a habitat analysis strategy;
- develop a strategy for effective control of vector ticks; and
- establish federal research initiatives.