Coalition for Animals
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Lyme Disease Findings

Currently, there are many documents that concur that the whitetail deer are not responsible for the Lyme Disease. Consequently, there are many locations where there are no deer and the Lyme disease is still transmitted.

  A lecture was given on emerging pathogens, an infectious disease and zoonotics by a microbiologist & epidemiologist expert at the NJ Department of Health. A question asked was what the correlation between deer population and Lyme disease is. She said there is NO CORRELATION, and that if not deer, the ixodes tick will find other hosts, namely the white footed mouse. She says there is a high correlation between the larval and nymph stages of the tick on mice and the incidence of the disease.

 On 'hot zones' such as Hunterdon County, New Jersey, she said there is no known reason for the high incidence. There are no more ticks and no increased numbers of the bacteria in the ticks. The incidence in Hunterdon is 500 cases per 100,000 people, versus the rest of NJ at 125 per 100,000. NJ is in the top 3 or 4 states in the U.S.

  At the Aug. 5, 1993 Assembly Environment Committee, James Blumenstock, Director of New Jersey Consumer Health Services, spoke about Lyme disease. The following is a basic summary of his main points: There is no significant relationship between deer management, specifically population control efforts, and the level of deer ticks and the incidence of Lyme disease for the following reasons:

1. Nymphs, (a stage of the tick) which are responsible for most of the cases, get their blood meals on the white-footed mouse, not the deer.
2. Adult ticks will adapt if you reduce or remove deer from the area, they will seek alternative hosts.
3. Environmental/ecological control efforts should be the focus in reducing tick populations. Control the disease vector, rather than the host.

Another important fact about Lyme disease comes from an article in Consumers Reports: "Deprived of their usual hosts, infected adult ticks become a more immediate nuisance, as happened
when deer on an island off Massachusetts were virtually exterminated. Wandering ticks threatened the populace as they searched for new hosts." (Consumers Reports June 1988)

WESTPORT, May 30 (Reuters Health) - American robins infected with Lymes disease spirochetes are as infective to ticks as are infected mice, the major reservoir for Lyme disease in the US.
The new finding suggests, "Robins may contribute to the force of transmission of the agent of Lyme disease, because these locally abundant birds are reservoir-competent and may be infested by numerous larval ticks".  Dr. Dania Richter, of Universitat zu Berlin in Germany, and colleagues speculate in the current issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, dated March-April.

Dr. Richter and colleagues found that robins quickly acquired infection with Lyme disease spirochetes and became infective to ticks soon after exposure. Although infectivity waned after only 2 months, robins were
susceptible to reinfection and could again transmit the infectious agent to ticks.

"In addition, spirochetes passaged through birds retained infectivity for mammalian hosts," the investigators report. The findings indicate that American robins are a competent reservoir for Lyme disease infection, Dr. Richter and colleagues say. However, the importance of this species as a reservoir for transmission "remains speculative."  Emerg Infect Dis 2000; 6:133-138.

  The proper education of the Lyme transmission is necessary to avoid misconception of this disease.