Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2024

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Environmental Science


John Van Buren


This paper addresses the role of suburban development in the suburbs of the Northeastern United States in increasing human Lyme disease infection. Over the past 50 years, Lyme disease has become the most common vector-borne disease in the United States. In 2021, the two states with the most Lyme disease cases were New York and New Jersey, with a collective 6,524 cases, with Connecticut still representing 541 total cases. It is not a coincidence that case numbers are concentrated in suburban areas with high forest fragmentation. Chapter 1 of this essay analyzes how human land development disrupts bioregulatory ecosystem actors and the effects of this loss on Lyme disease incidence. It will also elaborate further on the issue of Lyme disease, including statistics on its prevalence, symptoms, and economic effects. Chapter 2 uncovers the history of Lyme disease outbreaks worldwide, in the Midwest, and explores the social construction of the disease. From a public health standpoint, Chapter 3 analyzes what strategies health professionals and governments are already using to mitigate Lyme infections. Transitioning to a suburban planning lens, Chapter 4 examines how a lack of adequate planning allowed Lyme disease to flourish. This chapter also investigates governments of the tri-state area in search of existing zoning strategies to decrease Lyme disease infection. Chapter 5 combines urban and suburban planning with lawmaking and policy to develop strategy ideas for land development going forward to mitigate the spread of Lyme disease. These strategies include educating the public about personal safety, reducing ecotone habitats, and Lyme screening in endemic areas. These environmental policies, combined with public health policies, will ensure a healthier future for humans and animals.