Can We Prevent Lyme Disease?

Wednesday, May 27, 2014, 7:30 p.m., Wayland High School Auditorium, 264 Old Connecticut Path, Wayland, MA 01778.

tickJoin the Walden Forum for a discussion with Sam Telford, Epidemiologist, Educator, Researcher, and Professor of Infectious Disease and Global Health at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Telford has been studying tick-borne illnesses since 1984 and is a world-renowned authority on the subject. Telford advises local, state and national organizations on public health interventions against tick and mosquito-borne infections.

“Lyme disease alone is enough of an argument to take action to reduce risks, let alone that there are four other deer tick-transmitted infections,” says Telford. “In some New England communities, as many as a third of residents have been exposed to at least one tick-borne infection.”

The talk will review tick borne infections and why we are experiencing an increase in prevalence and distribution. A large body of knowledge provides specific recommendations for reducing risk, but it’s not easy to implement control measures, says Telford. “It certainly is a problem trying to change our culture, trying to get people committed to doing something,” he says. “One obstacle is that what you see around you is natural. It isn’t. Unfortunately a lot of conservationists are too rigid about altering our environment.” Public education about tick-borne diseases and reducing deer herds, while controversial, may be a good place to start, according to Telford.

An article in HealthDay News in 2013 noted: “About 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year, which is about 10 times higher than the number of cases reported each year to the U.S. (CDC) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

And according to Susan Little, DVM / PhD, the 2015 Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) Parasite Forecast shows Lyme disease is still high risk and spreading. The report predicts a higher than usual threat in areas where the disease is currently widespread. The disease appears to be spreading in a southwesterly direction. Areas of particular concern are New England, the Upper Ohio River Valley, and the Pacific Northwest.