April 2015 Weather Changes May Mean More Ticks, Earlier in the Northeast
An article last month from National Institute of Health reported that ticks in the northeastern US are showing up earlier in the spring and expanding their range because of warmer temperatures. Although the Northeast had currently contended with record-breaking cold and snow, the trend over past decade has been toward warmer temperatures. Researchers explain that the black-legged ticks that carry Lyme disease and other infections begin feeding several weeks earlier than usual.
The risk is changing with climate change. Scientist Richard Ostfeld notes we need to prepare for tick avoidance education early in the season. It is tough to prove that climate change is causing a boom in tick population. Scientist Ostfeld believes that if temperatures continue to climb, tick season may begin even earlier than June and as early as May.
The nymph stage of development- when ticks are the size of a poppy seed – is when ticks are the greatest threat to humans. Nymphs are the guys who make us sick and are responsible for the majority of human cases of Lyme disease. Beside Lyme disease, the black-legged ticks can cause babesiosis and anaplasmosis, potentially life-threatening infections, and encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain.
Babesiosis symptoms include flu like symptoms, decreased appetite, nausea and or fatigue. The parasites with this black-legged tick infect the red blood cells resulting in anemia. Anaplasmosis symptoms include abdominal pain and nausea, cough, confusion and a rash is rare. Flu like symptoms are abnormal in late spring and summer months and it is recommended you seek care from your health care provider if any of these symptoms appear and request tick testing.
Warming temperatures are making it easier for ticks to survive in higher altitudes and northern areas that are normally too cold for the ticks. Lyme is expanding geographically, moving north and up in elevation. Lyme may be seen in western NY, western PA, and southern Canada. What about spring in the northeast? Many feel ticks get clobbered n cold weather conditions, but that heavy layer of snow can provide a protective blanket for ticks.
Once the snow melts, wear clothing with DEET repellant or spray socks/shoes with DEET. Ticks climb up the body. Do tick checks if you have been out hiking or walking in the woods or shrubs. Pull the ticks off before they bite you. Wear long pants and closed toe shoes. When coming in from the outdoors, throw your clothes in dryer first, then wash. Seems most ticks are sensitive to dryness.
Learn about the early symptoms of Lyme disease: fatigue, chills, fever, muscle and joint aches, and a rash at the site of the tick bite. Review how to check oneself either in shower or sitting on the toilet. Google Dr. Tom Mather from URI; check out his web site - he has a descriptive method of how to check for ticks.
K Registration Dates: April 7, April 9 and April 29. Future 7 th Graders letters going out April 14 th .