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Climate Change And the Rise of Lyme Disease

Posted by Jennifer Smith on

By now, you probably heard the announcement from President Donald Trump that the United States is pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement (don't worry, it takes approximately four years to be officially removed; and we can get back "in" in as little as 30 days). 

Although Trump feels that global warming isn't a major environmental concern, we already see the effects in global warming based on the influx of ticks this season.

"The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive" @Donald Trump on Twitter

Ticks are most active in the late spring-early summer months when the weather increases and tend to latch-on to warm-blooded mammals including white-tailed deer, birds, mice and humans. Tick-borne cases in humans, Lyme Disease in particular, are moving at a frightening rate. In fact, the number of reported Lyme Disease cases has more doubled from the 1990s and "and the number of counties that are now deemed high-risk for Lyme has increased by more than 320 percent in the same period." (Vox Magazine, "How Climate Change Helped Lyme Disease Invade America.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that the increase in Lyme cases is because of global warming and the warmth of environment. The survival of ticks depends on climate change; and we know that ticks survive best in warmer climates. Although when the temperatures drop, ticks go dormant; but do not die. Because ticks do not feed well in the wintertime, there is a reduction in tick cases during the winter season.

Because of climate change, ticks are re-producing quicker than ever and are moving into more parts of the United States.

2017 is estimated to be a very bad year for Lyme Disease

Although we are quick to point the finger at deer for the spread of tick-borne illnesses, the white-footed mouse is actually to blame. White-Footed Mice carry the bacterium that is used to produce Lyme Disease and most active during the summer months where they seek acorns and other food. The heavy mouse population leads to an increase in tick feedings on wildlife; and thus, increases the risk of Lyme Disease.

To protect yourself, Deerbusters suggests that homeowners and active outdoor enthusiasts do the following:

  • Perform tick-checks after outdoor activity;
  • Wear bright clothing to easily spot ticks after walks in the woods and grasslands;
  • Build a deer fence around properties to keep deer and rodents away from homes;
  • Use insect repellents and tick bands while hiking;
  • Carry a Tick Key, or other tick tweezers when camping for easy removal of a tick, if needed;
  • Use deer repellents around home gardens.