Environmental Correlates of Lyme Disease Emergence in Southwest Virginia, 2005-2014.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in North America. Though human infection is mostly transmitted in a limited geography, the range has expanded in recent years. One notable area of recent expansion is in the mountainous region of southwestern Virginia. The ecological factors that facilitate or constrain the range of human Lyme disease in this region remain uncertain. To evaluate this further, we obtained ecological data, including remotely sensed data on forest structure and vegetation, weather data, and elevation. These data were aggregated within the census block groups of a 9,153 km2 area around the cities of Blacksburg and Roanoke, VA, an area with heterogeneous Lyme disease transmission. In this geographic area, 755 individuals were reported to have Lyme disease in the 10 yr from 2006 to 2015, and these cases were aggregated by block group. A zero-inflated negative binomial model was used to evaluate which environmental variables influenced the abundance of Lyme disease cases. Higher elevation and higher vegetation density had the greatest effect size on the abundance of Lyme disease. Measures of forest edge, forest integrity, temperature, and humidity were not associated with Lyme disease cases. Future southward expansion of Lyme disease into the southeastern states may be most likely in ecologically similar mountainous areas.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Lantos, PM; Tsao, J; Janko, M; Arab, A; von Fricken, ME; Auwaerter, PG; Nigrovic, LE; Fowler, V; Ruffin, F; Gaines, D; Broyhill, J; Swenson, J

Published Date

  • July 16, 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 58 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 1680 - 1685

PubMed ID

  • 33825903

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8285012

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1938-2928

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/jme/tjab038


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England