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  • Lyme Lens

Need longer winter...

My former house in New Hampshire where I was bitten by the tick that gave me Lyme Disease in 2000. I could stand on those snowbanks to hang Christmas Wreaths on my windows every year! We started the year plowing the driveway very wide because by the end of the season, so much snow had fallen that it was barely wide enough to park two cars side by side. On the back of the house is Daniel's Lake. Copyright photo Ag.

I ran across this article talking about how the warm temperatures that come earlier and earlier each winter aren’t doing us any favors in controlling the tick population up north. It makes perfect sense to those of us who come from New England and enjoy outdoor sports.

For a while, we could count on frigid temperatures and snow on the ground from at least November until March in most places. Some were lucky enough to last from October to May depending on how far north you lived. I remember plenty of trick-or-treating at Halloween and going to Easter Sunday Mass wearing winter snow boots as a child. As the years pass, it seems that our winters are getting shorter with warmer temperatures and less snow cover. We have the occasional year here and there that is a whopper but most often we are still playing Thanksgiving football games on grassy fields these days.

The point being, no snow = longer tick season. As the autumn leaves sit on the ground longer, they remain a damp breeding ground for ticks. The animals that they feast on are staying out later in the season foraging for winter food so it becomes a vicious circle of mass population and feeding frenzy for the life threatening blood suckers.

If you don’t think these little critters pack a powerful punch, Park Rangers are struggling to save the Moose population in NH right now because the babies being born are so infested with ticks that the poison (bacteria/coinfections) they are regurgitating into these animals is killing them, if they survive the initial anemia from the blood loss due to so many ticks feasting on them. The deer are struggling from a similar fate.

This is to say nothing about how the human population becomes affected in the late fall and early spring. Hunters are suffering worse than ever before when they go out in the fall for their annual game hunting seasons. Some of these people still rely on these animals to feed their families for the winter and not only are they putting their lives at risk when they come home covered in ticks but the animals they shoot are infested and the search dogs they bring with them on the hunt are also at great risk too.

When people try to enjoy camping or hiking in the spring, they have to cover themselves in tick prevention products or clothing and still do complete body checks every night for critters that can be as small as the size of a poppy seed. No one can ever feel safe anymore when venturing into the great outdoors for fear of catching Lyme Disease. Quite frankly, they should be afraid. If not caught within the first week and started on strong antibiotics, there is a good chance that this will haunt you for life. Not only does it ruin the outdoors for you forever, it will destroy your life completely.

Chronic Lyme Disease doesn’t only have to be caught if you venture into the mountains to go hunting, hiking or camping anymore. With the increased population of ticks now it has become very easy for them to migrate and Lyme Disease to spread. Whereas it used to be primarily contained in the northeast and Midwest (as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever), we now find it in almost all 50 states.

You may be asking yourself how that happened because everyone is still under the assumption that it is not in “their” state. Well, we have discovered that ticks don’t really care about state borders! They have jumped on to certain species of birds and hopped a flight south. Then they climbed into people’s luggage and flew commercial with the “snow birds” on their yearly migration to Florida for the winter. They also had an affinity for the inner ears of mice and rats who happen to like warmer temperatures when the snow begins to fly up north so off they went, scampering on all fours through tunnels and restaurant kitchens as they traveled southwest. Next thing we knew, Lyme had spread like a wildfire across the country but no one told the CDC!

Or I should say, the CDC never told anyone. They knew but neglected to share their research findings with the government, the healthcare system, the insurance companies, the public, the EPA, or the people who were actually getting sick from the ticks. Nice eh? Finally a group of physicians called ILADS blew the whistle on them and the showdown began but it was pretty late in the game for those of us who were now in the late stages of Chronic Lyme Disease. We are the pretty sick ones who are currently paving the way for the rest of you as we try to fight the ever growing tick population.

So, here is yet another news article for you to read showing you how warmer winters are contributing to an increasing number of ticks in the community and why that is such a danger for the human race. I think you will have to highlight it and copy it into your browser because I haven’t figured out how to send you directly to links yet but I will work on that. My apologies for the inconvenience.

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