American Tick Invasion
“Thomas Mather, Ph.D., director of the University of Rhode Island’s Center for Vector-Borne Disease, has been studying ticks since 1983. He’s known as “The Tick Guy,” and says that over the years he may have collected more black-legged ticks than anyone. The recent rise in tick populations is something Mather has observed firsthand.
“If people could just see what I’m seeing,” he says, “they would never go outside.””
[The Great American Tick Invasion – Consumer Reports]
[ Reviewed Unto Righteousness Below ]
“If people could just see what I’m seeing,” he says, “they would never go outside.”” – Thomas Mather, Ph.D
“Disease-carrying ticks, found in all 50 states, have significantly increased their geographical range in the past 15 years, showing up in new places nearly every year and multiplying quickly.
Tick experts in the Northeast have stories about places so infested with ticks that they’re hesitant to name them, not wanting to brand a place as “Tick Heaven.” A Long Island entomologist recalled finding 250 ticks on a single bush. Last year a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the number of tick-borne diseases more than doubled between 2004 and 2016.
Scientists are testing new approaches that may help curb the explosion of tick-borne illnesses, such as Lyme disease and babesiosis. But there are no large-scale tick-control solutions demonstrated to work, according to Richard Ostfeld, Ph.D., a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y. In the meantime, people are left to protect themselves against the serious threat of disease using the same precautions taken at the Little Leaf school.
Thomas Mather, Ph.D., director of the University of Rhode Island’s Center for Vector-Borne Disease, has been studying ticks since 1983. He’s known as “The Tick Guy,” and says that over the years he may have collected more black-legged ticks than anyone. The recent rise in tick populations is something Mather has observed firsthand. “If people could just see what I’m seeing,” he says, “they would never go outside.”
A Growing Epidemic
In a recent nationally representative survey of 2,052 Americans by Consumer Reports, 4 in 10 said they had experienced a tick bite. But many more are bitten without ever realizing it. Today, the CDC estimates that there are about 300,000 new cases of Lyme disease in the U.S. each year, most of them unreported.
And Lyme is just the best-known tick-borne illness. At least seven new diseases spread by ticks have emerged since 2004. (See “How a Tick Bite Can Affect Your Health.”) Some can be fatal if not caught early.
Ticks aren’t the only disease-spreading pests on the move. A study published in March predicts that as the world warms, a billion new people could be exposed to mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika, dengue, and chikungunya between now and 2080.
When disease-carrying mosquitoes reach a new area in the U.S., there are standard public health responses, including population control methods, with cities, towns, and counties conducting mosquito abatement campaigns. But when ticks move in, you’re often on your own.
And the problem shows no sign of abating: “The continued spread of ticks, the discovery of new tick-borne pathogens, and the spreading outbreak of human disease is a near certainty,” the Tick-Borne Disease Working Group, appointed by Congress, wrote in a report in 2018.”
“The Most Effective Tick Repellents for Humans (and Dogs), According to Science”
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[ additional information ]
“Female western black-legged tick, Ixodes pacificus, can transmit Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. These ticks are mainly found in western Washington and live in forested or brushy areas.”
[Tick Photo Gallery :: Washington State Department of Health]