Talk of an upcoming antibiotic-resistant superbug incites fear and paranoia, but there is one potential outbreak that gets little attention, even though some say it’s coming as early as this year. Lyme disease is on the verge of causing a public health emergency, according to Dr. Richard Ostfeld, a disease ecologist, who spoke to New Scientist about the issue.

ReadLyme Disease Carrying Tick Populations Are On The Rise In Nearly Half Of All US Counties

Ostfeld tells the magazine that climate change is causing Lyme disease to sprout up in places that previously weren’t problems, which is made worse since people in these uninfested areas don’t know how to fix the problem. In addition to the United States, Europe is set to have an outbreak in 2018, reports New Scientist.

The warmer winters is producing more abundant harvests, which in turn feed the mice population. The mice bring ticks. As the magazine reports, ticks feast on mice blood, passing on a bacteria that causes the disease.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control estimates about 300,00 cases of Lyme disease per year, but many professionals believe the number is actually much higher than reported. While high, the current figures may not be alarming enough to create the market for a vaccine. In 2002, manufacturers pulled a Lyme disease vaccine off the market citing insufficient demand. However, researchers are currently working on a new one.

ReadDo I Have Lyme Disease? Symptoms, Chronic Risks, And Treatments For The Infection

Lyme disease is spread by a tick bite and is typically an area of concern for those who spend a lot of time outdoors, like campers and hikers. High-risk regions include the northeast and upper midwest, but as Ostfeld says, such regions are expanding. To avoid the disease, Mayo Clinic recommends covering up fully when outside by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants; using insect repellants; checking your body for signs of ticks after spending time outdoors; and removing a tick with plyers.

See Also:

Antibiotic Doxycycline Works No Better Than Placebo In Treating Long-Term Chronic Lyme Disease

There's A New Species Of Bacteria That Can Cause Lyme Disease: CDC