By: Carlos Rodriguez
Summary: Rising heat temperatures are helping push ticks to the northward and westward ranges in the U.S. Ticks that are usually only found in the warmer southern states are now appearing in states like New York and New Jersey. These ticks, particularly blacklegged ticks, carry diseases which they then transmit to other species, eventually leading to humans. One of the main diseases that ticks play a big role in is Lyme disease. In just two decades, cases of Lyme disease have doubled to 30,000 cases a year in the U.S. alone. Ironically, due to the restrictions implemented to help control COVID-19, it seems that disease infections will now spread further. Since people are quarantined, a lot of those same people are actually going out to national parks more where they risk contact with these ticks; coming into contact with ticks could be very easy if one isn’t aware of what to look for in “tick areas”. Also, due to higher temperatures, ticks are becoming active earlier in the year and ending later into Autumn which increases their chances of surviving in the winter. With COVID-19 happening, it has only made the situation worse. Those who are aware of such diseases from ticks seem to underestimate them thinking COVID is the real threat since its virus based. However, bacteria-based diseases are not all easy to treat and should be given similar precaution as well.
Why we should care? This topic is important because just like mosquitos, ticks also pose a threat to humans and other species. We're currently in a pandemic and we're seeing/experiencing the disaster that a deadly disease can bring.
I found this article interesting because instead of just informing you on the dangers of climate change and ticks it also tells a story of a family that lives in Ohio. It is able to help you visualize and process the struggles and adaptations that the family must go through in order to keep living a normal life. A lot of the times people don't believe in something or aren't actually motivated to take action because they don't see how it actually affects people but adding that story in the article before talking about the issue really helps one put themselves in others' shoes and understand the severity of the situation. I also think the article did a good job in emphasizing the dangers/health risks of the diseases that are carried by ticks.
Science in Action.
Dr. Richard S. Ostfeld is a Disease Ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies.
Dr. Richard S. Ostfeld studies the ecology of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases along with the effect of environment factors on tick survival and behavior. Specifically, he spent the last decade studying how climate change effects tick survival. He currently directs a 5-year study where 2 tick control methods are being tested in which he hopes to find an effective approach that could help communities control tick-borne diseases when implemented. His team is also investigating viruses that live within the blacklegged tick: what viruses they carry, how they're transmitted, and whether or not they pose a threat to the human species.
This a great post and such a relevant topic! Pet owners will definitely need to be paying attention where their pets roam. The vet we take our dog to has been teaching us and warning us every year for the past couple of years on the increase in ticks. He has seen an increase in the number of pets coming in with ticks for the past couple of years. Like you, he attributes this increase to the rise in temperatures we are seeing here in Michigan and across the Midwest. It is interesting to see how climate change will continue to change the way we live and the resulting changes to our habits. I also did not connect quarantine with an increase in tick bites and Lyme disease, but it does make sense. I know myself and others have had an opportunity to reconnect with nature, which has been a blessing. However, with this rediscovery of nature comes with unwanted consequences, like an increase in tick bites. I am interested if other people have noticed an increase in tick bites in the past couple of years. Maybe they have been directly impacted or know of someone who has been bitten and then was diagnosed with Lyme disease. Overall, I think this is a such relevant topic and an important one. People are going to soon realize that our changing climate is going to result in changes to the way we interact with the world. Some may be minor while others will directly affect us, like this topic.
This is something important to keep in mind, my dog gets into all sorts of trouble with ticks and fleas no matter what I do. It is kinda scary to think about how they will be seen more often. Another reason why I wish people would listen to the facts about climate change
I live in an area where ticks are prevalent from old farm land and woods right off of our property. My Dad likes to take my dog out there and last year was the first time that I had ever gotten a tick in my life. It honestly gave me a panic attack and I have to pull over 15 off of my dog at one point last summer. It makes me afraid to even allow my dog outside because I don't want to get a tick. He also tested positive for Lyme Disease so it makes me worry the ticks out there could be carrying them.
This cannot be more relevant right now! My family and I have been camping twice a year my whole life and we never used tick spray. For our pets we would use a topical tick medication and nothing else. When it was finally getting warm this year the first thing I did was go to Stoney Creek to do the trails with my dog. I found so many ticks on my dog and in my car for days after. I was so paranoid that my dog still had ticks even though we bathed her with tick shampoo. It is so weird that ticks are just now becoming prevalent in my life after years of never worrying about it.
This article was interesting to me because a lot of people don’t understand why ticks are so dangerous. Growing up in a rural area. A farmhouse surrounded by a field, our family made us well aware of deer ticks. I remember going out to climb trees with my brother, we would always bring my dog. She was a small miniature Pomeranian (they are those little puff ball looking dogs) even though she had protection against fleas and ticks, my mother would constantly be checking her hair to make sure she didn’t pick up a tick. We lived on 12 acres and were surrounded by tall grass then a wooded area. With rising deer populations, in combination with climate change, these ticks were able to thrive. The strange thing about these ticks is that they don’t really look like any type of particularly scary bug. They are a tad bigger than an ant and sort of look like a regular beetle. I agree with your closing statement that people need to be aware of the dangers of ticks. I have a friend that contracted lymes disease from a tick and she is effected heavily during this pandemic as someone with an autoimmune disorder. The change in climate is a major factor that contributes to the spread of different species of ticks to more northern regions. Their ability to survive for longer time periods due to climate change leaves us with two jobs. Educating ourselves on how to protect ourselves from ticks and educating ourselves on what we can do to repair some of the damage of climate change.
I had no idea this was happening. This is really interesting though. I also had no idea a tick could eventually lead to Lyme disease. This is clearly an issue that needs to be addressed though. If people take precautions and avoid going to national parks and find other outdoor places to go during the pandemic, it could help.
Hi! This topic is very interesting. My article was very similar (it was about the migration of mosquitoes and the diseases they carry.) I didn't know much about ticks before reading your article! It's crazy how COVID-19 restrictions are allowing other diseases to spread further! This seems counterproductive but we need those restrictions in place to battle COVID!
Ticks and many other parasitic insects cause a lot of harm to humans. Harm either directly through their actions or indirectly by the diseases they carry with them. As much as I personally hate them, (especially mosquitos), we as environmental science students need to see how they play a role in their ecosystems and the niche that they cover. We shouldn't try to eliminate a population just because our activities that caused global warming gave them a new range.
This was a triggering post because I am so scared of ticks! It is so sad because I love deer but I cannot help but think they are infested. The reason why I am so afraid is because of Lyme disease. The same thing goes for when I get bit by mosquitos, I automatically start to think the most because they can carry so many different types of diseases. In Bangladesh the rise of dengue fever was going up the charts due to this hot weather. Its just paradise for these bugs. There has to be something done before it gets worse.
I found this very interesting because every year during the spring and summer months I always make sure to check myself and my pets before going inside. There has actually been a tick on my brother's pillow at our cabin up north, so now I am always weary. They are as pesky as a cold and if you are not watching for them they can sneak inside your house through many ways. Wearing tick and bug repellent in the summer and spring months is so important especially in Michigan. It is scary to think that quarantine could lead to a rise in tick related illnesses, as our only way of getting out is going outdoors. Make you feel as if everything is out to get us.
This article is something I feel familiar with and glad to see that this topic is being talked about. I've done many projects on invasive species and how global warming supports their movement into environments where they were not previously found. When I have done my projects on these topics I haven't focused on insects before, but this article brings up good points. Insects can go through a life cycle and reproduce very quickly and it's worrying to think about the diseases that they can harbor and then transmit to people. Another example of a species that is moving more northern due to climate change is the Burmese pythons that were invading the everglades, have started to move into Northern Florida and states around it.
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