Past and future Lyme disease trends in Virginia and the southeastern United States

Authors: Korine Kolivras*, Virginia Tech
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Land Use and Land Cover Change
Keywords: emerging infectious diseases, Lyme disease, geospatial techniques, tickborne disease, environmental variability and health
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: Download


Virginia is located along the southern edge of Lyme disease’s expanding range, and the state has experienced a quintupling of cases since the early 2000s. Most research examining potential links between ecological and demographic characteristics and Lyme disease was conducted in the northeastern U.S., in the heart of the endemic zone, but less is known about Lyme disease emergence at the edges of its range. This poster presents the synthesis of research conducted on Lyme disease in Virginia over the past decade at multiple spatial scales, and highlights how the disease has emerged and may continue to emerge in the future. Spatio-temporal trends in Lyme disease clustering and emergence are quantified, and clearly show the southwestward movement of Lyme disease within the state in several clusters. Links with ecological and demographic characteristics are then examined. Unlike in studies in the northeastern U.S., forest fragmentation as a stand-alone variable is not statistically significantly associated with Lyme disease in Virginia, but specific edge variables are, suggesting the importance of fragmented landscapes. In particular, herbaceous-forested edges are positively associated with Lyme disease cases. Additionally, median income and median age are positively associated with the disease. This understanding of past Lyme disease emergence in Virginia, and its association with demographic and ecological characteristics, then informs work using a predictive model that projects potential Lyme disease distributions into the future in the broader southeastern region under four different IPCC-SRES scenarios. Importantly, Lyme disease is expected to decrease under the B scenarios in the coming decades.

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