Lyme Disease Risk Influences Human Settlement in the Wildland-Urban Interface: Evidence from a Longitudinal Analysis of Counties in the Northeastern United States.

The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene

PubMedID: 25048372

Larsen AE, MacDonald AJ, Plantinga AJ. Lyme Disease Risk Influences Human Settlement in the Wildland-Urban Interface: Evidence from a Longitudinal Analysis of Counties in the Northeastern United States. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2014;.
The expansion of human settlement into wildland areas, including forests in the eastern United States, has resulted in fragmented forest habitat that has been shown to drive higher entomological risk for Lyme disease. We investigated an alternative pathway between fragmentation and Lyme disease, namely whether increased risk of Lyme disease results in a reduced propensity to settle in high-risk areas at the interface of developed and undeveloped lands. We used longitudinal data analyses at the county level to determine whether Lyme disease incidence (LDI) influences the proportion of the population residing in the wildland-urban interface in 12 high LDI states in the eastern United States. We found robust evidence that a higher LDI reduces the proportion of a county's population residing in the wildland-urban interface in high-LDI states. This study provides some of the first evidence of human behavioral responses to Lyme disease risk via settlement decisions.