Ticks, those tiny arachnids that feed upon blood and leave their calling card in the form of Lyme disease, arrive with the warm weather and thanks to global warming, they are extending their habitat, bringing “novel and emerging tick-related viruses with them.” (“The Tick Predicament,” by Janet Marinelli, National Wildlife, April-May, 2016, pg. 12) Count the Heartland virus in Missouri and Tennessee and the Powassan virus in the Northwest and Great Lakes among the new versions of the illness in those regions.
One friend I know has suffered for years with Lyme disease and is now taking a brew of medicines meant to combat it. Unfortunately, the treatment is so debilitating, one wonders if the cure isn’t as cruel as the disease. Drastic measures become necessary when infections are allowed to fester for a period of time, something that happens when a doctor doesn’t recognize the disease.
Urban dwellers needn’t suppose they are safe from ticks as they might have been in the past. Because global warming has allowed the insect to expand its range, residential areas are now vulnerable. Most people think white-tailed deer are the major tick carriers but in urban areas chipmunks and white-tailed mice provide transportation as well. (Ibid, pg 14.) Each year, about 300,000 people suffer from Lyme disease. (Ibid pg. 12).
Urban dwellers who want a chemical free environment to grow vegetables and attract birds face a dilemma: how to protect the habitat and themselves yet live in pesticide free environment. The Mayo Clinic offers some tips on how to do that. (Click) Mainly, the advice is for a gardener to cover up when working outside. Wear light colored clothes to make spotting crawling ticks easier, tuck pants into socks and wear long sleeve tops and gloves. I don’t mean to spoil a gardener’s fun. But struggling with Lyme disease probably isn’t worth the price of working bare-legged in the garden on a sunny day.