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.