Researchers at Binghamton University's Tick-borne Disease Center have been studying Lyme disease for nearly ten years. One of their primary research goals is to develop a model to predict human risk of infection that can be broadly applied to areas endemic for Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses, and to validate cost-effective public health strategies that can be used to mitigate and prevent disease in humans and pets. Their research has found that people tend to put themselves at risk for Lyme disease without even knowing it.
"Most people tend to think that they only have to worry about ticks when they’re deep in the woods or other unpopulated areas, but this isn’t necessarily the case," said Binghamton researcher Amanda Roome. "People are at risk for tick bites in common, everyday areas, too. People only think about ticks when they’re in the middle of a dense forest or on an extended nature hike, but ticks are just as prevalent in backyards or other built environments.
Even something as simple as wearing shorts and a tank top, or stepping off the sidewalk into a grassy area, can put people at risk. That risk is especially high in New York and the Northeast, where Lyme disease is now endemic.
"We observe people’s walking patterns, the environment and even what they’re wearing to understand how much risk people are taking on," said Roome.