Korean squirrel vector for Lyme disease – population grows in forest in Oise

Korean squirrel – a small rodent with copper hair and a striped back is a vector of Lyme disease. Its population grew in the forests of the Oise.

As often, appearances are deceiving. Lively, the Korean squirrel is known for its nasty habit of biting humans and its ease in taking to the skies. A real sales phenomenon in the 1960s and until its marketing was banned in 2016, the animal was massively released into the wild by disillusioned owners, as Le Parisien reminds us, Monday January 10. As a result, the species now makes up the large family of “IAS”, invasive alien species. Also called Siberian chipmunk, this beast with expressive eyes is said to swarm in Oise and Île-de-France. It would also have impacts on human health.

“The Korean squirrel plays a major role in the infection of ticks, vectors of the disease to humans”, warns the regional management of the environment, planning and housing (Dreal). Marie Angot, researcher at the Hauts-de-France Conservatory of Natural Spaces, specifies that “the chipmunk seems more infested with ticks than other rodents”. Ticks would contaminate them more, and “the risk of transmission of Lyme disease to humans would therefore be increased” in areas where its presence is confirmed.

To stem the proliferation of the pest, a census operation has been launched, in which all forest users can participate, from walkers to photographers. At the same time, the Dreal indicates that it is carrying out “regulation experiments” going as far as eradication for defined and small populations of rodents.

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