Monday, July 09, 2018

ticked off

From Wired:

"We Have No Idea How Bad the US Tick Problem Is"

Around the world, diseases spread by ticks are on the rise. Reported cases of Lyme, the most common US tick-borne illness, have quadrupled since the 1990s. Other life-threatening infections like anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever are increasing in incidence even more quickly than Lyme. Meat allergies caused by tick bites have skyrocketed from a few dozen a decade ago to more than 5,000 in the US alone, according to experts. And new tick-borne pathogens are emerging at a troubling clip; since 2004, seven new viruses and bugs transmitted through tick bite have shown up in humans in the US.

Scientists don’t know exactly which combination of factors—shifting climate patterns, human sprawl, deforestation—is leading to more ticks in more places. But there’s no denying the recent population explosion, especially of the species that carries Lyme disease: the black-legged tick. “Whole new communities are being engulfed by this tick every year,” says Ostfeld. “And that means more people getting sick.”

Tick science, surveillance, and management efforts have so far not kept pace. But the country’s increasingly dire tick-borne disease burden has begun to galvanize a groundswell of research interest and funding.

Our family dog never had a tick problem, despite being a thoroughly outdoorsy beast. Our long-hair cat, however, got ticks often enough for us to try several styles of tick removal, with varying levels of discomfort for the cat. The one method I'd have loved to try, had I had a syringe, would have been the hydrogen-peroxide technique.

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