Mice are Immune

82_mice316x316Permission by Lymestats.org


I have to kinda admit – I think mice are cute.  Perhaps it’s because my brother always had some, running in their little treadmills.  It’s always been a curiosity of mine to know if they are affected as we are with MSIDS (multi systemic infectious disease syndrome or Lyme with friends).

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that researchers at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies discovered just last year that ticks do not affect the health or lifespan of mice, and what’s more, male mice seemed to have better health the more ticks they had!

“The study examined mice during the warm-weather months and tracked winter survival rates. In both cases, the number of ticks on a mouse appeared to have no impact.  Over 16 years, they had captured more than 5,500 mice, tagged them so they could be tracked, and counted the ticks on them.

‘We couldn’t detect an effect, which is really surprising,’ said Michelle Hersh, the study’s lead author, a former researcher at Cary and now a biology professor at Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers.

When paired with other research that has shown mice don’t fight off diseases effectively and don’t remove ticks from their bodies, the study underscores the threat the small mammals play as wellsprings for Lyme disease, malaria-like maladies such as babesiosis and anaplasmosis, and the incurable and often deadly Powassan encephalitis.
Mice were trapped every three or four weeks, starting at the peak period of larval tick activity in late July and early August, until the end of the breeding season in November.  Each time a mouse was trapped, it was either marked with an ear tag — if it had no tag — or its tag number was recorded.

The number of larval ticks varied widely, with some mice having more than 200. On average, the mice carried about 23 ticks.

So, now you know.