Press Herald reports on CCI research exploring climate change, Lyme disease – Elias & Birkel

The Portland Press Herald reported Maine Medical Center Research Institute in Scarborough is partnering with the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute to study how climate change affects deer ticks and Lyme disease. Susan Elias, a disease ecologist at the research institute and a UMaine Ph.D. candidate, said persuasive research connects climate change with the increased range of the deer tick that carries Lyme disease, but there hasn’t been a comprehensive look at the many factors that are causing a surge in Lyme cases. Those factors include shorter winters, hotter summers and fewer days of extreme cold temperatures, according to the article. Sean Birkel, Maine’s state climatologist and a research assistant professor at CCI, said that decades ago, large areas of Maine were uninhabitable for the deer tick because larvae could not survive cool summer days. “Most of Maine is now a likely tick habitat. Thirty years ago that definitely wasn’t the case,” Birkel said. “But it 05 still take awhile for significant populations to be established up in the north.” Even in the early 2000s much of northern Maine was not habitable for deer ticks, but that’s not the case now, Birkel said.