Heather Colman-McGill struggles daily with the symptoms of Lyme disease, which range from fatigue and headaches to nervous system and heart problems. An environmental scientist, Heather says her own experience inspired her to become an advocate for other patients with Lyme disease — who, she says, are affected in different ways.

COLMAN-MCGILL: “On the one end of the spectrum there are the simple cases where it really is easy to diagnose, easy to treat, and has minimal life impact. And then on the other end of the spectrum, it can be quite complex and debilitating.”

Each year, hundreds of thousands of Americans contract Lyme — an infectious disease caused by tick bites — and the number is rising. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lyme is the fastest growing vector-borne disease in the U.S.

A changing climate is a contributing factor. Abnormally warm winters and wet summers have expanded tick habitat and increased egg production — meaning more ticks…and more Americans at risk.

COLMAN-MCGILL: “In our changing world, I think we have to take steps to avoid tick bites as part of our new daily practice as well as become educated about the multiple types of tick-borne diseases.”

As the climate warms, avoiding tick bites and Lyme disease is more important than ever.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.

More Resources
More Concerted Action on Public Health Coming from Medical Community Interests
The Ongoing 30-Year Lyme Disease War: Case Study of a Failure to Communicate
Climate Change and Public Health Reporting
Lyme Disease, Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Lyme and Tick-borne Diseases Research Center
Featured Research: The Season Of Ticks: Could Climate Change Worsen Lyme Disease?
What Will Climate Change Mean for Lyme Disease?
Climate and Tick Seasonality Are Predictors of Borrelia burgdorferi Genotype Distribution
Lyme Disease Rate Increasing in the Northern United States
Lyme Disease Surge Predicted for the Northeastern U.S.

Diana Madson contributed regularly to Yale Climate Connections from 2014 to 2021. She enjoys exploring U.S.-based stories about unexpected and innovative solutions to climate change. In addition to her...