Claim: Climate is causing a Rapid Rise in Lyme Disease Infections

This "classic" bull's-eye rash is also called erythema migrans. A rash caused by Lyme does not always look like this and approximately 25% of those infected with Lyme disease may have no rash.
This “classic” bull’s-eye rash is also called erythema migrans. A rash caused by Lyme does not always look like this and approximately 25% of those infected with Lyme disease may have no rash. By Photo Credit: James GathanyContent Providers(s): CDC/ James Gathany – This media comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s Public Health Image Library (PHIL), with identification number #9875.Note: Not all PHIL images are public domain; be sure to check copyright status and credit authors and content providers.English | Slovenščina | +/−, Public Domain,

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Zoonotic disease researcher Katharine Walter has claimed that climate is causing a massive rise in human cases of potentially debilitating Lyme Disease. But there are a few problems with this theory.

Deer tick invasion

Encounters with ticks didn’t always cast a dark shadow over North American summers. Cases of Lyme disease first appeared in 1976 in the woodsy suburb of Lyme, Connecticut. At that time, deer ticks were found only in a hotbed encircling Long Island Sound, along with a small area in Wisconsin.

Since the 1970s, deer ticks have rapidly extended their reach north, west, and south. The most recent map shows that deer ticks now roam throughout the eastern coastal states, from Maine to Florida, and across the Midwest. They are now established in 45 percent of US counties. That means the deer tick has more than doubled its reach in the 20 years since the previous map was published.

The spread of Lyme disease has closely followed the spread of the forest nymphs. Lyme disease is now the most common disease transmitted by a vector — a mosquito, tick, or other bug — in United States. More than 30,000 cases are reported each year, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 10 times as many Americans develop the disease.

Ticks spend the majority of their lives on the forest floor. They are vulnerable to changing local climates and death by freezing, drowning, or desiccation. Warmer winters and longer summers let more ticks survive and thrive further north each year. Warmer temperatures quicken the tick life cycle, too. Tick eggs hatch sooner and ticks spend more time questing for blood, and so are increasingly likely to feast on a human and pass on a disease-causing pathogen. Because more ticks survive and mature more quickly, diseases can be transmitted faster.

Read more:

What happened in the early 1970s, which might have caused a sudden rise in the rate of dangerous insect borne disease infections?

In 1962, Rachel Carson published the book Silent Spring. It cataloged the environmental impacts of widespread DDT spraying in the United States and questioned the logic of releasing large amounts of potentially dangerous chemicals into the environment without understanding their effects on the environment or human health. The book claimed that DDT and other pesticides had been shown to cause cancer and that their agricultural use was a threat to wildlife, particularly birds. Its publication was a seminal event for the environmental movement and resulted in a large public outcry that eventually led, in 1972, to a ban on DDT’s agricultural use in the United States. A worldwide ban on agricultural use was formalized under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, but its limited and still-controversial use in disease vector control continues, because of its effectiveness in reducing malarial infections, balanced by environmental and other health concerns.

Read more:

The timing fits. DDT was banned because of fears about its long term persistence in the environment – its ability to spread and continue killing insects, well beyond the location where it was originally sprayed.

But there are other issues which might have contributed to the “rise” in Lyme disease rates.

Nobody actually knows how many people are infected every year with Lyme disease. Estimates are statistical models, based on the number of people who are diagnosed, which the CDC admits are only a tiny fraction of the number of people they believe are actually infected. The bacterium which causes Lyme wasn’t identified until 1982, when it was described by Willy Burgdorfer. Given the variability of Lyme disease symptoms, any diagnosis prior to 1982 must be considered circumstantial at best. Changes to the quality of diagnosis, of which there have been a number in recent years, could potentially have a significant impact on the number of reported cases.

Each year, approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to CDC by state health departments and the District of Columbia. However, this number does not reflect every case of Lyme disease that is diagnosed in the United States every year.

Surveillance systems provide vital information but they do not capture every illness. Because only a fraction of illnesses are reported, researchers need to estimate the total burden of illness to set public health goals, allocate resources, and measure the economic impact of disease. CDC uses the best data available and makes reasonable adjustments—based on related data, previous study results, and common assumptions—to account for missing pieces of information.

… the number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease based on medical claims information from a large insurance database. In this study, researchers estimated that 329,000 (range 296,000–376,000) cases of Lyme disease occur annually in the United States.

Read more:

Changes to land management may have also contributed. The ticks which transmit Lyme disease to humans hide in leaf litter. During much of the 20th century, controlled burning was unfashionable – fire departments sought to suppress fires, rather than burn off excess fuel. Policies have varied in different places at different times, so it is difficult to match management policies to tick prevalence, but controlled burning when it occurred likely had a massive impact on the tick lifecycle, by burning the leaf litter in which they hide.

It is not impossible that climate has influenced the distribution of Lyme disease. However, concluding that climate has caused a rise in Lyme disease infections in US and Canadian forests seems dubious, without considering the likely significant impact of other contributing factors, or the very real possibility that much of the apparent rise is a statistical artefact, caused by poor historical diagnosis and reporting.

Update (EW) – Katharine also mentions the rapid rise in deer population as a contributing factor

In part, ticks are following the spread of one of their favorite sources of blood: deer. As deer populations exploded over the last sixty years, thanks to strict hunting laws and the largely predator-free and deer-friendly landscapes in New England and the Midwest, deer ticks followed. However, the steady crawl of ticks north into Canada can’t be explained by deer alone.

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July 2, 2016 2:46 am

The deer population is a factor as well. There are more deer now, than when the white man first arrived.
This is especially true in the eastern US, where much of former farmland has gone back to forest. Perfect habitat for deer.

Reply to  Leslie Johnson
July 2, 2016 6:36 pm

Nonsense… it’s clearly caused by global warming. As a matter of fact I’ve never seen a paper written with grant money that did not find global warming as the cause.
Unfortunately they are running out of good ideas faster than the ocean of grant money. Here’s an idea to research that will certainly snag some funds. Global warming causes testicular cancer. See what happened right after the 97-98 El Nino? Coincidence? I think not…

General P. Malaise
Reply to  Leslie Johnson
July 2, 2016 11:41 pm

the ticks are spread by mammals and birds is not only deer. 10 or 15 years ago there was a warm and early spring in northern Ontario and the ticks were so numerous they were killing moose.
the last several years have had cold and late spring warming. the claim that global warming as a cause of increased lyme is a lie.
many claims are false on their face since there has been virtually no warming in the last decade . These fraudsters are jumping the gun blaming something which hasn’t happened for these natural things.

Reply to  Leslie Johnson
July 3, 2016 6:55 pm

Actually, the white tail deer populations bottomed out in the era of market hunters and end of logging /farmland conversion.At that point (~1870-1900 depending on location) the Eastern US population populations were nearly eliminated. Only the careful State management and reintroduction allowed the current population increase.
Lyme disease is a simple result of the juxtaposition & close proximity of large uncontrolled deer populations and large uncontrolled human populations. That’s the way ALL zoonotic (~wildlife-man) diseases spread most rapidly. We can lost in the weeds of why deer populations are important, why rodent populations are important, why humans in those environments is important but those are just details.

Reply to  Leslie Johnson
July 4, 2016 6:14 am

That is exactly what I was taught as an SF medic. White tails have not only increased in number they are living closer to large numbers of humans than ever before as humans move to areas that are prime habitat.
Check out the CDC map of incidence.
Notice that the NE and parts of WI are where it’s most endemic.
And BTW the classic bulls eye presentation around the lesion as shown in the attached photo is not really classic. It presents that way in less than 50% of the diagnosed cases.

Mark - Helsinki
July 2, 2016 2:48 am

Those are some pretty glaring problems with K Walter’s claims, glaring indeed.
More half azzed academia

Reply to  Mark - Helsinki
July 2, 2016 5:47 am

I think it is more than that. It is simply following up on the global Health in All Policies (HiAP is the acronym used) determination to inject “the environment” as a factor in all public policy discussions. This 2013 paper that is a guide for state and local governments (glocal as I mentioned yesterday) admits it is to interject Equity as a governmental goal into all discussions of social, economic, and physical environments.
So this is academia doing what pays the bills and brings in grant money from foundations and the feds.

Reply to  Mark - Helsinki
July 2, 2016 1:50 pm

You also need to consider number of diagnostic tests conducted versus positive cases. I suspect that the increase in cases coincides with an increase in testing.

Louis Hooffstetter
Reply to  Mark - Helsinki
July 3, 2016 4:17 pm

I grew up in the Lowcountry of SC and have been picking ticks (deer and other kinds of ticks as well) off of myself and my dogs since the mid 1960’s. Luckily I have never gotten Lyme disease but several of my dogs have suffered from tick paralysis.

charles nelson
July 2, 2016 2:48 am

Here in Australia the Government came up with a radical and creative approach to dealing with the disease.
They simply do not acknowledge that it exists.
You think I’m kidding.

Reply to  charles nelson
July 2, 2016 5:27 am

Connecticut Lyme disease is very similar to Siberian tick-carried encephalitis, a terrible, often deadly infection that can be stopped only by injection of copious amounts of gamma-globulin very soon after the bite. I had been bitten and had these injections twice; my parents reacted to tick bites with utter horror and panic.
In Siberia, Soviet government tried to cover up the wide spread of tick-carried encephalitis, a disease that damaged the brain and made its victim a barely moving idiot. Just a stroll in the summer forest could be deadly. I remember seeing on the banks of the Inya river, in the 1970s, bushes seething with ticks in such amounts that tips of the branches seemed to be flowing with some black substance.
This had nothing to do with any human activity, because there were as many ticks in the deep regions of taiga as in the forest around the villages and towns. Tick populations seemed to suddenly explode and spread in some years, and then they subsided somewhat. Nobody knows exactly, why, but those tick population explosions are correlated with moose and elk population changes.
Encephalitis endangered all visitors of the Siberian forests in the summer. The only people immune to it were local farming and hunting families who lived there for generations. They drunk fresh goat milk from goats constantly exposed to ticks; over the years this goat milk gradually worked as a vaccine against encephalitis.

Reply to  Alexander Feht
July 2, 2016 5:47 am

Sadly it appears shooting deers and other carriers of ticks would be efficient and cheap way to reduce tick born Lyme disease and encephalitis, but those stupid greens are paralysed when you talk about reducing populations of those.

Reply to  Alexander Feht
July 2, 2016 6:54 am

“In Siberia, Soviet government tried to cover up the wide spread of tick-carried encephalitis, a disease that damaged the brain and made its victim a barely moving idiot.”
Yamal is in Siberia. How long was Briffa in Yamal? Could that explain his results? /sarc

Reply to  Alexander Feht
July 2, 2016 9:33 am

It is far more efficient to spread insecticide treated cotton puffs through host woodlands to kill of the new generations of ticks. Ticks use mice to overwinter.

Reply to  Alexander Feht
July 4, 2016 6:24 am

Simple preventative measures like closing off places of entry in clothing and avoiding game trails where the ticks are most likely to be concentrated and “quest” are the best measures for personal protection.
Here in Indiana a few years ago the white tail population exploded. The state authorized out of season organized hunts even in state parks because the deer were starving. The meat from the hunts was distributed to the needy. But PETA and others showed up to protest and made a big stink about it.
To me PETA stands for People Eating Tasty Animals.

Reply to  charles nelson
July 2, 2016 5:50 am

That HiAP link I just put up details the history and calls particular attention to the 2010 Adelaide Statement for South Australia. It is essentially using governments at all levels to force Marx’s Human Development Society using data and outcomes. The M word is never used, but I have spent too much time with Uncle Karl not to recognize the tenets of his vision.

Reply to  charles nelson
July 2, 2016 8:52 am

Wife had Lyme-took years for her to find treatment-this was Oregon. She went to
a D.O. in Idaho who prescribed a Brazilian herbal treatment called “Cats Claw”
very effective took about 1 year.
You can buy it over the counter at health/food, etc. stores.
There is science behind it…

Robert from oz
July 2, 2016 2:56 am

I believe some doctors are now pressing for acknowledgement of the disease .
And off topic looks like us Aussies are in for another Labour / Green goverment , and another carbon tax .

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Robert from oz
July 2, 2016 2:58 am

There is already a carbon tax. Was introduced yesterday.

July 2, 2016 2:57 am

My Wife got bit by a Lone Star Tick here in Virginia back in March and she developed Limes from that and had to go on Meds for 4 weeks. She still has a swollen place where the bite is and it flares up about every other week. It’s said that it will possibly take as long as 6 months for the meds to finally take care of it.

charles nelson
Reply to  Eric Worrall
July 2, 2016 4:03 am

I got bitten by ticks shortly after I got here about 8 years ago.
I now have a recurring bout of achy/exhaustion/flu type symptoms, which last about ten days…once a year.
In case you’re worried about me…it’s OK…I just muddle through!

Reply to  Eric Worrall
July 2, 2016 6:30 am

I’m here in CT where Lyme disease was first recognized. Prior to 1980, a large percentage of the state was still open farmland, mostly planted with hay, grazed by cattle, or growing corn for silage. Many of the farmers annually burned these fields. Today, CT has more forest cover than at any time since the 17th Century, people constantly plant more ornamentals right up against their houses, and bark-mulching is commonplace in gardens, roadsides, etc. Why WOULDN’T there be ticks?
Last winter was the mildest in years; in fact, since the last “big” El Nino in 1997. I have never seen FEWER ticks than we’ve had this past Spring, and those we saw were dog ticks, not the deer ticks that carry Lyme.
I have plenty of opportunity to find them, with 22 horses and 5 dogs! We have had MUCH worse tick seasons following some of the harshest, snowy winters so in my view this “study” is off base. It’s also true that only a very small percentage of deer ticks are even carrying the disease, but people looking for grants have to foment hysteria.

Reply to  Lone Gunman
July 2, 2016 9:41 am

Goldrider….why would a “scientist” studying tick distribution bother to interview people who due to circumstance and avocation be positioned to make observations such as yours? My god man that would be like asking Eskimos about polar bears and seal populations.

Tom Halla
July 2, 2016 3:02 am

Walter has apparently never heard of post hoc, ergo propter hoc. Yes, Lyme disease increased since 1976, and so did temperature. The problem is the disease wasn’t named before 1976, and no test existed before 1982, so the baseline is a great big guess. The increase is another estimate.
Seems just like climate science in general.

Reply to  Tom Halla
July 2, 2016 5:47 am

Aha! Ticks cause global warming. I knew those bugs were up to no good!

Reply to  Jon
July 2, 2016 9:19 am

@ jon
No, no, no, you have it wrong. Global Warming causes ticks. More irrefutable proof of Lysenkoism and the glory of communist science. 🙂

Richard Betts
July 2, 2016 3:04 am

Katharine Walter’s article only says climate change is speeding up the spread, not that it’s the only cause.
As with many environmental changes, there can be climate and non-climate influences.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
July 2, 2016 5:52 am

I’d shoot the deers at my backyard, if that wasn’t illegal (heavily fined, all guns confiscated, deer confiscated).

Reply to  Eric Worrall
July 2, 2016 6:33 am

I’d sure like to know where this “rapid rise” in annual temperature is taking place. With the exception of the past El Nino year, the winters here in CT have been notably cold and wet.

Richard Betts
Reply to  Eric Worrall
July 3, 2016 8:33 am

The title of Katharine’s article is “Climate change is SPEEDING UP the spread of lime disease”.
You’re own title is misleading because it gives the false impression that Katharine is claiming that climate change is the only influence. She’s not saying that. Seems like you’re trying to build a strawman here!

July 2, 2016 3:24 am

Many states have enacted laws to allow deer populations to increase dramatically. Compared to the 1970s, areas which almost never had a wild deer sighting now have small herds routinely to the point where they’ve become pests that destroy gardens and field crops. Additionally, some states have re-introduced large elk populations. There’s just lots and lots of human created food for these things to feed upon.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  cedarhill
July 2, 2016 6:08 am

Cedarhill, absolutely right you are with your statement of:

Compared to the 1970s, areas which almost never had a wild deer sighting now have small herds

And that is why it’s referred to as a ……………….

Deer tick invasion
Since the 1970s, deer ticks have rapidly extended their reach north, west, and south.

Not a dog tick, nor a wood tick, but a (White Tail) deer tick (the blacklegged tick) because the explosion in the White Tail deer population that began in the 1970’s provided the blacklegged tick a means of easy migration to far distant locations in all directions.
For instance, pre-1970 the deer population in West Virginia was scares, to say the least, and in many locales just the sighting of a deer in a field or running across a roadway was worthy of mentioning in the local newspapers.
But all of that changed with the construction of the Interstate System, especially I-79 from Charleston, WV to Erie, PA …… and I-77 from Columbia, SC (thru WV) to Cleveland, OH.
And you ask, …. “Just how did Interstate construction affect the White Tail deer population?”
And the answer is a simple one. Because it was mandated that all Interstate right-of-ways be reclaimed and reseeded with Crown Vetch …… and the deer loved it, and they ate, and they grew fat and multiplied. And WV and PA are now noted as having the highest yearly “deer kill” by automobiles.
Like most all species of animals, when the local population of deer becomes too crowded, individuals will begin migrating far and wide, carrying those blacklegged ticks along for the ride.
HA, the Interstate System provided the “corridors” for the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis) to migrate along to greener pastures.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
July 2, 2016 7:17 am

Migratory robins have been noted with nymphs around their eyes. I believe that birds are the most effective transport of ticks.

Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
July 2, 2016 7:35 am

In at least part of PA, the role of Crown Vetch in attracting deer to roadsides has been recognized, and the plant has been removed from many of the right of ways. I do not know if it is state policy or local policies so I cannot say if this is the practice everywhere. Much, if not all of Rte 15 is no longer lined with Crown Vetch. This is a bit sad because it really was pretty. I do think that deer roadkill has decreased, but I travel to PA less often now.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
July 2, 2016 9:21 am

Crown Vetch was introduced as an erosion control measure. Now we deal with the law of unintended consequences.

John M. Ware
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
July 2, 2016 2:01 pm

Crown vetch has been the bane of my efforts as a daylily gardener; it grows everywhere, blooms and seeds in mere moments, and insinuates itself between and among already-established plants. I have seen it planted in masses along roadsides, and–indeed–it is pretty, for the few days it blooms. But it is one of the quickest garden thugs and invaders to establish itself, and I would (given the power) outlaw it on public roadways.
Deer are another problem. One of my best friends in daylilies–who once headed the committee to host the national convention–has had to quit daylilies because the deer came and ate them down to the ground. We are in a metropolitan area, so shooting them is out of the question. (I once read the New Hampshire solution to too many deer: “Veni, vidi, (boom!) venison!” with, of course, apologies to Caesar.)

Reply to  John M. Ware
July 2, 2016 3:37 pm

Day lilies are pretty tasty. .

Dave Kelly
Reply to  cedarhill
July 2, 2016 8:58 am

The same thought occurred to me. My family lives in the North Alabama/Eastern Tennessee area. The deer populations have exploded since ’76. In no small part this is due to lower hunting pressure. For example in the ’70’s most young southern men went hunting after school in the fall… meaning, gasp, we had guns in our cars at school. Between the point the schools let out and sunset the gunfire was strong enough to mimic a small war.
Now days, far fewer students hunt after school… as measured by the level of gunfire and the increased number of deer on our property & in the general area.
Other factors impacting tick levels here are the regulatory hoops needed to get a burn permit. We used to burn our property annually to remove leaf litter, standing grass, vines, to replenish soil alkalinity. and get rid of ticks and other pests. This was done at our discretion when the weather permitted (meaning shortly after a good rain) and when we had the time. With 50 acres and only two adult males in the family this was enough of a chore. Now, it’s virtually impossible to do this routine maintence considering the regulatory hoops you have to go thru to get a burn permits. Theses permits requirements were mostly initiated by states in response to federal environmental air regulations (i.e. the EPA’s CAIR and CSAPR air rules).

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Dave Kelly
July 3, 2016 4:30 am

Now days, far fewer teenagers and under 30’ers have access to a sporting gun, let alone going hunting at any time of the year. It is no longer PC to be shooting at Bambi.
Use to be, one (1) deer, a buck only, was all you were licensed to kill per hunting season.
Now, in some locales, if you purchase all of the permits you can kill a max of six (6) deet, bucks or does.

Reply to  Dave Kelly
July 3, 2016 12:05 pm

I talked to a deer expert here in VA, and he said that when hunters were surveyed about how many deer they would take if the tags were increased, they gave the same number: 2. A lot of them could not used more venison than they would get from 2 deer, and could not afford (or did not want) to pay $90+ a deer to have it butchered. There is a program called Hunters for the Hungry that donates venison to food banks and takes donations to help pay the butchering fees.
Not sure if this is still the case, but school used to be canceled on the first day of deer season in central PA. Easier to do that kind of thing in rural areas where people farm and realized that meat does not magically appear in styrofoam trays at the grocery store.

Reply to  Dave Kelly
July 4, 2016 11:27 pm

I don’t know about schools but many businesses in PA allow their employees to have the first day of the season off.

July 2, 2016 3:42 am

‘The spread of Lyme disease has closely followed the spread of the forest nymphs.’
Ticks are not nymphs. Not even close. Arachnid vs insect. What a maroon.

Mr GrimNasty
Reply to  Gamecock
July 2, 2016 2:25 pm

Deer tick – egg, larva, nymph, and adult – that’s correct life cycle names.
I agree with the other comments, in the UK as much as anywhere else there is a massive uncontrolled increase in deer and improved diagnosis rates – that’s all that is behind the apparent increase. The Winters on the central EU continent are far harsher than the UK, yet forested/deer populated areas have a much worse problem!

Reply to  Mr GrimNasty
July 2, 2016 2:46 pm

Thanks, you are correct about the stages.
Do you have any idea why she calls them “forest nymphs,” as they feed as larva, nymph, and adult? Is Lyme Disease only transmitted by the nymphs?

Mr GrimNasty
Reply to  Mr GrimNasty
July 2, 2016 3:08 pm

“Most humans are infected through the bites of immature ticks called nymphs (~2mm so very small). ” (US Dept. of health & human services Lyme disease leaflet). Adult ticks also infect but easier to see.
After they’ve over-wintered the nymphs hang around in leaf litter and low level vegetation, most commonly in forested areas, waiting for a host to happen by. I think that’s why they refer to them as forest nymphs.

July 2, 2016 3:47 am

Another ‘researcher’ abuses statistics to tell him things s/he doesn’t know because s/he doesn’t have the real world data to stand on, and then stretches to tell us more than what s/he really knows.

July 2, 2016 3:47 am

Here in Central Florida, where no global warming has happened, there was a young man whom I taught who had mysterious symptoms. Several diagnoses where made by prestigious medical outfits as well as individual doctors here in central Florida. Finally, they said let’s just call it Lyme disease. And let’s say his sister has it too. (she really did not have any symptoms but, hey, why not?)
Now heck, the boy may indeed have Lyme disease and will for years and years (into this 3 years now). But, he might have something else like several outfits first claimed.
Is Lyme disease becoming a “go to” disease?

Reply to  markstoval
July 2, 2016 4:26 am

Lyme disease is a diagnosis that you have to consider when someone presents with complaints that are long lasting and involve multiple systems. Here in Virginia where I was born in 1952 and grew up on a farm and now practice ER medicine it is not uncommon to see the rash pictured above. That represents the early stage of the disease where the bacteria is spreading in the skin but is not systemic yet. Not everyone with a rash like that remembers having had a tick bite and not every case of Lyme has a rash so it gets tricky. The CDC states the Lone Star tick does not transmit Lyme disease but causes another problem with a rash very similar to Lyme disease called STARI.

Doug Huffman
July 2, 2016 4:10 am

Ixoides deer ticks have a wonderfully complicated and fine tuned life cycle, fine tuned to allow the previous generation to infect the hosts of the succeeding generation.
A larva or nymph travels on its own only meters, 100 millimeters up and down a blade of grass from its questing site to rehydrate and back, for about 100 days to starvation or desiccation. The adult survives much the same way and duration but with regular meter long vertical travel.
ALL of the horizontal travel is on the back of a host mouse, deer, occasionally a bird or lizard. Avoid deer trails, lawns, meadows and verges to avoid ticks.
Ixoides are not affected by temperature variation, having originated in the Paleartic taiga. Their stressors are desiccation and starvation.
To control Borreliosis and Lyme disease, control the white footed deer mouse, the obligate vector host. To control the mouse, introduce and protect the fox. Deer control is ineffective, demonstrated and proven. Tick Tubes® by Dammnix are effective and expensive Permethrin acaricide infused mouse bedding material.
Ecology and environmental management of Lyme disease, edited by Howard S. Ginsberg (1993 Rutgers)

Reply to  Doug Huffman
July 2, 2016 5:56 am

Shoot the introduced deers. The foxes we have.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  Hugs
July 2, 2016 6:35 am

Deer populations replenish to consume the available resources. Controlling deer population is the traditional fix for Lyme prevalence, still ineffective after all these years. Eliminate the mice and eliminate the infection.
Here’s a thought; Ixodes tick larvae and nymphs are as likely to hop off their mouse in YOUR house as in the yard. Gravid momma ticks don’t hop off their deer in your house.

Reply to  Hugs
July 2, 2016 7:52 am

Stlll shoot the deers. The problem started here after the introduced deers became common; there are no ticks if there are no carriers for adult ticks.

Reply to  Hugs
July 2, 2016 7:55 am

Getting a cat to kill mice would help of course. The number of cats in my neighbourhood has been declining.

Reply to  Doug Huffman
July 2, 2016 1:18 pm

That’s rediculous.

Leonard Lane
Reply to  Bgraz
July 2, 2016 11:15 pm

Doug, thanks finally someone who uses the word deer correctly.

July 2, 2016 4:12 am

I had also mentioned the increase in the deer population, but that post seems to have gotten lost.
But, US deer populations now, are higher than when Liz Warren white ancestors first came to America. Especially in the east, where farmland has reverted to forest.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Leslie Johnson
July 4, 2016 4:58 am

But, but, when Liz Warren’s white ancestors first came to America the land east of the Mississippi River was heavily forested and thus the population of Deer and Elk was quite small because they are both “browsers” and there is nothing in a forest for them to eat.
And that Deer and Elk population began to diminish simply because the European immigrants shot and killed them whenever they needed “food for the table”. And Deer and Elk meat was served/sold in the Inns and hotels. As the forest gave way to the farmland then the Deer population began to recover. Currently, the White Tail deer populations prefers urban and suburban living where the “eatin” is good and they are protected from their human predators.

Doug Huffman
July 2, 2016 4:18 am

Identification of B. Burgdorferi and diagnosis of Borreliosis/Lyme disease is difficult and expensive, a two step process of ELISA and Western Blot test. Presumptive treatment with a full course of common antibiotics eliminates the vast majority of infections. The chronic infections are a different matter and quite intractable, susceptible to political manipulation.

Reply to  Doug Huffman
July 2, 2016 5:20 am

Correct about the diagnosis. Laboratory diagnosis is laborious and error-prone, and clinical signs are often uncharacteristic or ambiguous; chronic sufferers are often mis-diagnosed as hypochondriacs. It is quite likely that, over the years, rising awareness triggered more frequent diagnostic requests, leading to greater case numbers. I thus wouldn’t take reports of rising frequency at face value.
Chronic cases CAN be treated — they just have to be diligently treated for a long time, much like chronic syphilis.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  Michael Palmer
July 2, 2016 5:38 am

I can hear the screams now, “Chronic Lyme is like syphilis!” Oh, the horror. Oh, the humanity.

Reply to  Michael Palmer
July 2, 2016 9:09 am

Well, the mode of transmission is different, but the bacterial pathogens and the affected organ manifestations (nervous systems) are similar. Generally speaking, infections of the nervous system tend to require prolonged treatment.

Reply to  Michael Palmer
July 2, 2016 11:17 pm

There is zero medical science to support the belief that long term antibiotic therapy is beneficial. In fact, there is the opposite, numerous gold standard clinical trials with randomized therapy, where the treated group has outcomes identical to the placebo control group.
If you’re talking about long term treatment of symptoms with things other than antibiotics, I guess people can take whatever witches brew they think helps.
If I thought I might have Lyme disease, I would go to an infectious disease specialist, but not someone who only treats lyme. I would take a full 4 week course of doxycycline. And I would take the cdc 2 step test, then the c6 peptide test if the 2 step was at all uncertain. My goal would be to rule OUT lyme disease, not the opposite. And there’s no way I would let someone put me at risk with long term antibiotic therapy.

Reply to  Doug Huffman
July 2, 2016 6:36 am

In my experience, the “chronic” infections, which are nearly always ambiguous diagnoses, only seem to occur in older white women who would otherwise present with “fibromyalgia,” “chronic fatigue” or garden-variety depression. NEVER ONCE have I heard of a Mexican landscaper coming up with more than an obvious acute Lyme–and who do you think does 95% of the work outside here?

Doug Huffman
Reply to  Goldrider
July 2, 2016 6:44 am

Two good points.
The most susceptible populations are adolescents too distracted to do an effective search for a tick, and senior recreating outdoors, gardening, but with too poor eyesight to see the ~ 1 mm nymph or ~ 2 mm adult.
The hyperbolic headlines featuring a monstrously magnified adult tick are a gross disservice. Only an entomologist microscopist will ever see that image live.
The landscaper cannot afford hypochondria.

Reply to  Goldrider
July 2, 2016 9:15 am

Well, my niece had it at age 10. She was misdiagnosed as a hypochondriac for more than a year before the diagnosis was made, and a cure was effected with proper antibiotic therapy. She is white, though, so you are half right.
Of course not all patients with uncharacteristic symptoms and complaints that might suggest Lyme disease actually have Lyme disease. Thanks for pointing that out, Captain Obvious.

Reply to  Goldrider
July 2, 2016 3:44 pm

In my experience here in Northern California , both male landscapers and male Forestry workers often contract Lyme.Like many men however, they tend suffer in silence. In the case of the 19 y/o male landscaper who contracted his case in Sonoma County, his Lyme was misdiagnosed as cancer of his knee. Right before they were going to amputate his leg they decided to test him for Lyme (at that point almost two years since his symptoms first started) and he was positive. He was treated for the Lyme for almost a year, and his “cancer” was non-existent. The 45y/o Forestry worker from Mendocino county was also misdiagnosed until he almost died. He continues to have symptoms that flare up and it has been 20 years. We don’t exactly live in the backwoods here, but it is misdiagnosed so often it is scary. Worst of all, contrary to popular opinion, the age group that is misdiagnosed the most are young males ages 5-9. You are sort of right though. “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” and “Fibromyalgia” are often misdiagnoses of late disseminated Lyme and given to people who were never tested for Lyme when they first experienced symptoms. Ticks can carry multiple human pathogens besides Borrellia, and many people have co-infections, such as Stari, Rickettsia 364D, Borrellia Miyamotoi, and Bartonella. Pathogenic Borrellia species have been found everywhere except Antarctica. Even the CDC had to acknowledge just recently that probably only 1in 10 human cases is diagnosed and reported in the US, which means it is far more common than things like breast cancer, which no one laughs at. It really isn’t something to joke about. The ‘science’ of tick borne disease is just about as messed up and politicized as climate “science”, as the Australian commenter above also posted.

Reply to  Goldrider
July 2, 2016 11:25 pm

By far the most prevalent symptom is the bulls eye rash, but most that self diagnose as lyme never had that. The next most common symptom by far is arthritis. The neurological symptoms are extremely rare in comparison.
Yet those who self diagnose almost always cite fatigue or trouble sleeping or whatever else non specific ailments they have at the moment. And the quacks trying to drum up business always start with the rare symptoms almost everyone has at one time or another, they don’t ask about the common lyme symptoms that most people don’t have.
I see billboards in my neighborhood, in a state which has the lowest risk of lyme according to the maps. If they’re here, I imagine they are everywhere, and lyme isn’t everywhere.

Reply to  john
July 2, 2016 4:50 am

Gores daughter is protesting a gas pipeline. Coal is dead so now they are coming after gas. Meanwhile in NJ six flags is destroying a forrest for a solar farm.

Bruce Cobb
July 2, 2016 4:23 am

Centuries ago, it was witchcraft, now it’s “climate change”. Progress.

July 2, 2016 4:41 am

Since 1885, the average temperature of the contiguous US has increased overall perhaps 1F or less. There was a slight decline up to about 1970 and a small rise since then. See NOAA for the data. Such a small nationwide change, which is far far less than the average temperature difference between northern states such as Maine (41F) and and southern states such as Florida (71F), seems to me to be an unlikely contributor to the spread of ticks, deer, Lyme Disease or any other animal or disease for that matter. If the disease is really spreading, we need to look at other causes such as land use changes, introduction of non-native animals, or something else if a fix is to be found. Blaming it on “climate change” simply diverts the attention of our researchers and is harmful.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  DHR
July 2, 2016 5:45 am

Yes but it’s great for “climate” funding.

July 2, 2016 4:50 am

Lyme disease increase is caused by rampant, uncontrolled deer populations, not global warming.

Mark from the Midwest
Reply to  beng135
July 2, 2016 5:21 am

And in some areas deer are becoming far too comfortable around humans. We have two mature does in the area that won’t leave the yard with anything short of attacking them with a baseball bat or stun-gun.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  beng135
July 2, 2016 5:34 am

Deer are a resource. Mice are valueless. Deer are visible to hysterics, while mice are not. Deer cannot be eliminated. Mice can be eliminated and rid of Bb infection. Deer control has proven ineffective, difficult and expensive.

Reply to  Doug Huffman
July 2, 2016 8:58 am

Doug, You bring up a good point that it isn’t the deer but the mice as a critical link. But the statement “Mice can be eliminated…” is a bit much.
Both deer and mice can be controlled, but with unequal effort. In the case of mice, more raptors, coyotes, fox, lynx and cats. In the case of deer, more wolves and hunters. The mice will be far harder to control and eliminate than the deer. Eliminating the deer wont solve the Lyme problem if birds are an important agent of geographic spread.

Sweet Old Bob
Reply to  Doug Huffman
July 2, 2016 9:07 am

Ahhh …but mice DO have value …you grind them up (the whole thing ) and put them in your tacos that are being stolen from the cooler at work….. and then after a week you include a note with the tacos …..YOUV’E BEEN EATING MICE !…end of stolen lunches !

Reply to  Doug Huffman
July 2, 2016 10:30 am


July 2, 2016 5:22 am

“Climate is causing a Rapid Rise in Lyme Disease Infections”
maybe so but there is no evidence to relate that to fossil fuel emissions

Jerry Henson
July 2, 2016 5:41 am

The standard test for Lyme Disease is so unreliable as to be almost useless. The
experienced Dr.s treat the symptoms, but this can also be unreliable. My wife
was diagnosed with the disease and took high dose Doxycycline for three month.
The spirochetes are analogous to fleas in that you have to kill the mature then in a later
cycle, kill the offspring. The origina practice of 2 wks of tetracycline only works in cases
where it is caught very early.
Miss diagnosis is rampant. My neighbor was initaly diagnosed with Lyme, but later
confirmed as ALS.
Deer in my neighborhood are becoming pests. It is not unommon to see 12 whitetails
grazing on my lawn at dusk. I live in E. Tenn.
I know that C is not C, but deer are so unafraid that they now stare at me as drive
by in daylight.
Pemethrin and increased doe harvest may be the answer.

Doug Huffman
July 2, 2016 5:45 am

I was just refreshing my layperson’s recollection of the Western Blot test, and my search engine (not Gargoyle) included Morgellons on the same hit parade.

Reply to  Doug Huffman
July 2, 2016 3:57 pm

There has been some evidence recently published that Borrellia spirochetes have been found in skin scrapings of people with Morgellons :
The Western Blot for Lyme was one of the first things to become politicized, when original researchers eliminated two of the potentially positive bands so they could develop LYMErix vaccine. That was a few decades ago.

July 2, 2016 5:53 am

From the article: “n part, ticks are following the spread of one of their favorite sources of blood: deer.”
There’s your answer right there. Deer move around a *lot*. It has nothing to do with AGW/CAGW.

July 2, 2016 5:53 am

The way I look at it the more they blame climate on everything, the more it discredits them. They are just flinging crap at the wall to see what sticks, as far as I know none of it has actually been proven right.

winchester lever action
July 2, 2016 6:00 am

Declining numbers of hunters, decreased area hunters are allowed to hunt, increased penetration into deer habitat by suburbia, great lush food sources planted by suburban homes, deer adapting to human interaction and people exploring more into “the wild” by bike, hike, and camping. Yet they can’t figure out why there are more deer ticks. I wish my job paid lots of money for being an absolute moron.

Jerry Henson
July 2, 2016 6:05 am

My wife pointed out that Chris Kristofferson was reported to have been diagnosed
and treated for Alzheimers for several years before properly diagnosed with
Lyme. After treatment, he returned to normal.
The spirochetes can settle anywhere in the body. In my wife’s case, they settled
in her elbows and feet. The residual symptoms are arthritis like but can be treated
with very agressive massage after the spirochetes are killed.
I suspect that many cases of dementia and arthriris and possibly other diseases
are misdiagnosed lyme.

Old Goat
July 2, 2016 6:19 am

I contracted Lyme in 2012, from a tick in central France, where I live. I never saw it, but the bite was behind my right knee, and although painful and blistered, I couldn’t see a characteristic “bull’s eye” rash, and dismissed it. Later I developed flu-like symptoms, and took myself off to bed for a couple of days, after which the effects subsided. Some weeks later I developed an awful pain in my left shoulder, couldn’t sleep, and went to the doctor. When I happened to mention the episode, he sent me off for a blood test immediately, and the result showed Lyme. I had a course of fourteen daily antibiotic injections, and the pain went away. Since then I have developed an unexplained heart arrhythmia, and was hospitalised on three occasions last year, when after an angiogram, I had two stents inserted in my heart, but the arrhythmia persists, and leaves me fatigued and breathless after the slightest exercise. I am saddled with various drugs for the rest of my life, it seems.
At least here in France, they are aware of Lyme, and the relationship with ticks, but I have to say that although I mention it to my cardiologists at every opportunity, they tend not to link the heart failure with Lyme, which is surprising. Personally I think all my problems stem from this one tick bite.
We are in a rural area, with long grass prevalent, and plenty of deer, and other wildlife, and likewise, ticks. The cats I have owned, and now a new puppy were/are always collecting the buggers, like tick-magnets.
I can’t see, for the life of me, how climate has any effect. I’ve lived here for ten years, or so, and the climate (or weather) has been reasonably gentle throughout, with cold and mild winters, and hot and lukewarm summers. The ticks are still around, every year.

Reply to  Old Goat
July 2, 2016 4:09 pm

I do hope you persist in seeking treatment. Carditis and subsequent heart failure is a common late symptom of disseminated Lyme.
Climate isn’t the problem, unless it is the “social/political” climate.
Have you read the book by Dr. Neil Spector “Gone in a Heartbeat”? This guy , a cancer researcher for 25 years, ended up with a heart transplant due to undiagnosed Lyme. Heart complications of Lyme appear to affect males more than females.

July 2, 2016 6:44 am

There is another vector for Lyme besides deer ticks. I contracted Lyme in Baltimore, without ever leaving the city. Recently, Maryland has put out advice to doctors saying that there isn’t a second vector and to stop treating so many people for Lyme. Apparently, there are a lot of cases like mine, and the droids in the medical establishment want to enforce the “one vector” policy, without doing any additional research.
So, it could very well be increasing its range, and in about 20 years, you might see some research to that effect. Remember, Lyme isn’t really the disease, it’s the place where the disease was first discovered. It’s actually a spirochete infestation, and it’s complete hubris to think that there’s only one spriochete that mimics Lyme syndrome and that we’ve already found it.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  JDN
July 2, 2016 6:47 am

OMG!!!! You are not suggesting the Zika mosquito, are you?

Reply to  JDN
July 2, 2016 4:19 pm

JDN Black-legged ticks (both eastern and western) can have multiple hosts-the white footed deer mouse is one of them in the East .
Tick nymphs will also attach to the skin around bird’s eyes, and be transported that way.
Again, nothing at all to do with climate.

Reply to  JDN
July 4, 2016 11:35 pm

Leptospirosis is another commonly misdiagnosed disease caused by a spirochete.

David L. Hagen
July 2, 2016 6:47 am

Climate vs Lyme vs Deer vs Grain. Which the Cause and which the Correlation?
After plummeting >90% in 1900, deer populations have rebounded to >70% of ~1450 levels.
See article on deer populations.
Decline of Deer Populations
Compare rapid legislation/fear driven increase in corn production to prevent “climate change”.
See USDA Background
Compare the strong ‘correlation” between pirates and global warming

July 2, 2016 7:34 am

Another increase since the 70s is the number of people, particularly urban dwellers rambling and camping in remote spots. Deer are also less wary of humans and probably come closer to human habitation than they used to, not to mention all those tasty plants the humans cultivate.

Reply to  TinyCO2
July 2, 2016 9:12 am

I have a 6′ deer fence around my city property.
Highest and best use for Deer are gloves and venison chili..

Reply to  tgmccoy
July 2, 2016 1:37 pm


Steve from Rockwood
July 2, 2016 7:36 am

Here in Rockwood, Ontario we’ve had plenty of ticks and some local dogs have come down with Lyme disease. From 2007 – 2014 we were finding lots of ticks on the dogs ears, especially when they ventured into the tall wet grass near the creek. We always wear long pants and hiking shoes when hiking into the woods. Last 2 years, not a single tick. Go figure.
The hunting laws for deer are likely a major contributing factor to the increase in Lyme disease. More severe hunting restrictions, more deer, more ticks, more Lyme disease. I don’t hunt but according to a local hunter (76 years old) they used to hunt deer years ago, in part, because there was no one around. Now the country side is full of subdivisions and paved roads and they have to go further up north to hunt. There are many deer around here but they don’t get a chance to get very big – maybe coyotes.
I suggest that the northern movement of Lyme disease in Ontario has a lot to do with the increase use of rural land for non-farm use and the corresponding increase in interaction between people, pets and tick-rich grasslands.
Back in the 1980s we hiked around Long Point, Ontario, near the southernmost point of the province. They had signs warning against Lyme disease back then. I live about 100-150 km north of Long Point today and had never seen a tick until about 10 years ago. Since that time the land between Long Point and where I live has changed dramatically. The main difference is the loss of greenspace – treed forest that is left natural. This forces the deer into smaller and smaller areas. This is also where humans like to come into contact with nature. Any study that does not look at changing land use and/or hunting just isn’t worth a read. There is more to an answer than just temperature.

Reply to  Steve from Rockwood
July 2, 2016 8:11 am

I would love to see a study done on the prevalence of ticks, Lyme, and other tick-borne diseases in areas where hunting is common and areas where hunting is prohibited/rare. One survey in the Shenandoah Valley found that there were many more deer in Shenandoah National Park than in the surrounding area. Guess where hunting is common and where it is prohibited.

Reply to  AllyKat
July 2, 2016 4:29 pm

I don’t know if an official study has been done here in California, but in the endemic areas like Mendocino and Lake Counties where there is a lot of hunting and outdoor activities, the dogs (many of hunting type breeds) test positive for Lyme with alarming frequency. In Mendocino County 1 in 15 dogs tested + (and that is only dogs actually tested) and in Lake County (where most dogs don’t ever get tested) 1 in 40. That alone gives an alarming indication of just how prevalent Borrellia pathogens are, even with a vigorous and robust deer hunting season and far too many poachers.

Reply to  AllyKat
July 2, 2016 4:31 pm

Forgot to say that dogs are considered a sentinel species for Lyme prevalence.

July 2, 2016 7:41 am

Amazing how adjusting past temperatures….can adjust a disease that wasn’t even discovered then

Reply to  Latitude
July 2, 2016 1:39 pm

Not diagnosed, but I’m sure it was around. Probably attributed to “rheumatism,” the flu, “declines,” knee sprains, old age, migraines, and encephalitis. Only recently have we even acquired the means to detect something like this, and even so the misdiagnosis rate as others have noted is astronomical.

Reply to  Goldrider
July 2, 2016 4:53 pm

“Otzi the Iceman” whom they found under ice in the Alps, actually had evidence of Lyme disease too. Global warming ..yeah, right under the ice.

Walter Sobchak
July 2, 2016 7:49 am

rats = rats
squirrels = bushy tailed tree rats
pigeons = sky rats
deer = rats on stilts

Reply to  Walter Sobchak
July 2, 2016 8:12 am

…Moose = rats on steroids !

Reply to  Walter Sobchak
July 2, 2016 2:57 pm

sea gulls = sea pigeons, per my marine biologist sister.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Ric Werme
July 2, 2016 4:03 pm

“Altlered rats” too

July 2, 2016 7:59 am

In the 80s and 90s, I was a Girl Scout and went to day camp almost every year from about 6 to 14-15. We always had to wear pulled up knee socks, longer shorts, and a hat or bandana. Included in the camp paperwork was information about ticks and instructions on how to do a tick check. Bug spray was almost required, though I think you were not supposed to bring aerosol cans TO camp. My parents were both scouts, my mom was a camp leader for many years, and we did tick checks every time we came home from camping, hiking, or spending time in the woods. I did not know ticks were more present in meadows than woods until I was an adult. I really thought they dropped from the trees since the hat rule was enforced so strictly.
Despite all the precautions, and never once finding an attached tick, on July 4 of 1993 I suddenly had the bulls eye rash on the back of my calf. I got thrown in the car and taken to the doctor within an hour. The doctor did not bother doing a test (I do not know if they even had one) in part because the test(s) were not reliable, and because SOP was to give the initial treatment regardless of results. I was sent home with a prescription for horse pill sized antibiotics, but not before getting a massive shot in the butt. I threw the biggest fit of my life, and my dad had to hold me down while the nurse injected me. Fortunately, I never showed any other symptoms. I have no idea if I actually had Lyme, but I am glad I was treated. Still a bit peeved about the shot.
The problem is the mice and the deer. It is probably not helped by people running around in the woods without bug spray or leg protection, and then not checking for ticks. People do not always check their dogs unless they see a tick, and the “worse” ticks are hard to see unless they attach and really swell. I suspect that most of the uptick (ha!) in cases is due to the vector species’ population increases, lifestyle changes, and a lack of spraying insecticides. I do not think we necessarily need to return to the great spray clouds of the past, but I do think that judicious spraying in populated and frequented areas would make a difference in all kinds of disease.
We also should have banned all the Yankees from traveling. 😉

Doug Huffman
Reply to  Latitude
July 2, 2016 8:55 am

Also at DeerFriendly, Lyme Disease with comments on the ineffective control through deer populations and the benefits of foxes.

Doug Huffman
July 2, 2016 8:11 am

“Erythema migrans is the only manifestation of Lyme disease in the United States that is sufficiently distinctive to allow clinical diagnosis in the absence of laboratory confirmation.”
Wormser GP, Dattwyler RJ, Shapiro ED, et al. (November 2006). “The clinical assessment, treatment, and prevention of Lyme disease, Human Granulocytic Anaplasmosis, and Babesiosis: Clinical Practice Guidelines by the Infectious Diseases Society of America”. Clin. Infect. Dis. 43 (9): 1089–134. doi:10.1086/508667. PMID 17029130. “pp. 1101–2 Background and Diagnosis of Erythema Migrans

Reply to  Doug Huffman
July 2, 2016 5:01 pm

“Shapiro” is the Borrelliosis “science” equivalent of Michael Mann or Kevin Trenberth, et al.

Reply to  msbehavin'
July 2, 2016 11:35 pm

The statement is correct, the bulls eye rash alone can be used to diagnose lyme, with no other tests required.
Since AllyKat had a bulls eye rash, she would be diagnosed today, and they would probably forgo any additional testing.

Doug Huffman
July 2, 2016 8:23 am

BugsAway clothing by ExOfficio has a relatively permanent Permethrin acaricide component. The military specification was to last through 100 launderings.
There are also Permethrin spray clothing treatments with considerable remanence.
As the most acute tick stressor is dehydration/desiccation, a good anti-tick treatment for clothing AFTER exposure is to hang the clothing in bright sunlight for eight hours. A clothes dryer is not considered effective for the high humidity maintained through all but the last moments of the drying cycle.

Reply to  Doug Huffman
July 2, 2016 1:57 pm

“s the most acute tick stressor is dehydration/desiccation, a good anti-tick treatment for clothing AFTER exposure is to hang the clothing in bright sunlight for eight hours.”
Interesting. I noticed back in 2010, when we had a huge heatwave and drought, and it was about 110 degrees every day, I was wandering around on my overgrown acreage watering the 100-year-old trees, and I didn’t get any ticks on me at all. During a normal year, walking in those areas would bring out a lot of them.
I guess I’m lucky, I usually always feel the little critters crawling on me before they bite, and if not, then I will feel it when they bite, so they don’t stay attached too long.
People should always check themselves after a walk in the wilderness. Lyme disease is no joke.

July 2, 2016 8:47 am

Personally, I’d attribute any uptick to too many vodka & limes. Just hold the lime and replace with more vodka. Sorted innit?

Ian L. McQueen
July 2, 2016 8:58 am

This is a FWIW posting pertaining to New Brunswick (the province east of Maine, not the city in NJ). When I was young, around the middle of the 1900s, you were allowed a licence to kill two male deer. Now licences are for only one animal.
I believe that I have read that that the number of deer is smaller in the woods, party because there is less food for them in areas where they used to flourish, probably as a result of changed forestry practices. In the past you often went to the north of the province to find deer; now I hear that northerners are coming to the south because the number of deer is smaller in the north due to the changes in forestry practices. (I have no interest in hunting so my knowledge is from newspaper articles rather than first-hand experience.) However, if you go to populated areas where the number of houses has increased in the past decades you will find more deer, and they are much like those described by other posters here, i.e., that they are found in large numbers and have largely lost their fear of man.
Doctors here are largely ignorant of Lyme disease and have to be hit over the head to recognize that the disease exists here (and in neighboring NS and perhaps PEI). In fairness to the doctors, they may be being misled by government spokespeople. I am not sure.
It seems that NB is slowly warming, for animal species not seen here before are becoming established, like cardinals, turkey vultures, and others. Even deer are not native here and replaced the elk(?) that were wiped out by man’s hunting.
I hope that these disjointed observations are of some use.
Ian M

July 2, 2016 9:28 am

Climate change is probably only important in the northward expansion of the deer tick and the increase in deer populations likely explains much of the increase in ticks and hence Lyme. Two of the the other possible causes the author suggests for the expansion of Lyme are almost certainly not important. DDT was generally applied to agricultural crops (with very limited applications for controlling forest pests) and therefore the banning of DDT almost certainly was unrelated to the expansion of Lyme. In addition, the eastern forests where Lyme is prevalent (there also is a hot spot in northern coastal California) are not fire prone and therefore the suggestion that a reduction in prescribed burning lead to increases in ticks is far fetched.

Johann Wundersamer
July 2, 2016 9:29 am
July 2, 2016 9:30 am

how are they going to deal with the cold-
“U-Turn! Scientists At The PIK Potsdam Institute Now Warning Of A “Mini Ice Age”! “

July 2, 2016 9:50 am

“I’d shoot the deers at my backyard, ….”
If Hugs was my neighbor he would be hoping the police got to him before me. I do not have a problem with guns. I have a problem with idiots with guns.
My solution to ‘idiots with guns’ after getting out of the navy, was to move to the boondocks. Every fall the idiots would come from the city to shoot something. I was advised to put orange vests on the kids walking to bus stop so they would be mistaken for a deer.
One knuckle head bagged a deer while his car was being filled up in Pinegrove. The sheriff looked up from his morning coffee at his house to see a rifle being pointed in his direction.
Arrested, jailed, fined, weapons confiscated, deer meat given to charity. Sounds like justice to protect society from idiots not government overreach.
Seeing deer is one of the benefits of rural living.

July 2, 2016 9:52 am

It’s actually a spirochete infestation
Leptospirosis is a water born spirochete that took a long time to diagnose in Hawaii in the 1980’s, after it started killing people. Made me sick for 2 years. Old joke, didn’t die but often wished I had.
What made it so hard to diagnose was no doctors had seen it in more than 50 years, so it wasn’t recognized. But at one time it was quite common among farm workers and such. Perhaps Lyme disease is similar. Perhaps it was simply making a come back.
Clearly it cannot have been climate that killed off Leptospirosis, only to see it return. Unless on accepts that climate actually changes in cycles, and we are simply returning to an earlier climate.

July 2, 2016 9:58 am

Interestingly, in western Colorado where I live, for the first twenty years I would get 3-5 ticks a week on my clothing until it dried out in mid-June and they would be gone for the season. However for 4-5 years now I haven’t seen a single tick. Seems strange since the past two years have been wet well into summer.

July 2, 2016 10:29 am

Infected ticks can have either a type if infective agent that lives on mouse blood or bird blood; these 2 different types of infective agent do not cross over to use the other kind of blood. We humans are vulnerable mostly when infected ticks move upward from vegetation/mulch where the tick had hung out for maximum air moisture to prevent loss of water.
CO2 does come into the equation. Ticks come upward on a blade of grass “seeking” a host & in the case of infected ticks this move generally occurs by ~ 1 in the afternoon to summer sundown (~8p.m.). This timed phase-in is when the cyclical morning CO2 inflow through leaf stomata (pores) has begun to wane at ~ noon; until then the leaf blade is creating a relatively lower ppm of CO2 at the leaf interface with the air.
Ticks that are developmentally ready to “seek” hosts are responding to the ratio of CO2; dry ice (gasses out CO2) tick traps are very effective. In the case of infected ticks, these do get a symbiotic benefit from being infected; the infection alters some of the levels of specific heat shock proteins (HSP) making infected ticks better adapted to the higher temperature a tick might encounter when leaves ground cover.
Human blood CO2 level (goes up with exertion) is also a factor in where the tick seems most likely to bite us. Red blood cells location is, in part, tied to blood plasma resistance at membranes & greater permiability occurs as internally carried CO2 goes up.
Furthermore, infected ticks aiming for blood, seem to preferentially bite us where instrumentation measures show ~168-176 kilo Ohms resistance & in living cells CO2 concentration responds to variations of reistance by altering perfusion. I do not know if ticks have any capability to register host electrical resistance, nor for that matter a potential host’s internal CO2 gradient – tick “seeking” may be just adapted to blood heat signature.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  gringojay
July 2, 2016 10:52 am

How about a citation please? I have read a lot on Ixodes ticks and recall nothing like what you write.

Reply to  Doug Huffman
July 2, 2016 1:36 pm

Hi D.H., – Which part interests you in particular? I am using a tablet & typing bit of a chore.

Reply to  Doug Huffman
July 2, 2016 5:32 pm

Again D.H. – If the Ohms detail is new to you my source is Alekseev (& co-authors) who has been publishing related research since 1984. See (2006) ” Evidence the tick attatchment to the human body isn’t random”; originally published in journal Acarina, Vol.14, no.2 which gives the kiloOhms that I rounded off for brevity.
Recently in his career (2010) Alekseev proposed that Cadmium ( &/or maybe other heavy metals) in the tick’s exo-skeleton is sensitive to kiloOhm impedence & this influences why ticks may go for different sites on the same person. With ticks “seeking” they don’t always just get on us by our chance brushing against them; some can deliberately close the last gap on us. See “Influences of anthropogenic pressure on the system Tick-Tick-borne pathogens”; if stumps your browser it’s ISBN = 9789546425652 .

Curious George
July 2, 2016 11:18 am

The Lyme Disease is clearly a product of a global cooling in the early 1970s.

July 2, 2016 12:01 pm

I have a theory that there is a direct relationship between hysteria and the mysterious. IIRC, Cohen listed the 5 avoidable activities with the highest risk based on statistics as smoking, drinking, riding a motorcycle, owning a gun, and elective surgery. If Cohen was writing today, texting while driving he might make the list.
As tragic as it might be, a depressed teenage boy offing himself with a gun is not a mystery as to cause and effect.
Aliments that are hard to detect,treat, or identify a cause (lyme disease, cancer) are mysterious and generated disproportionate hysteria. They are ripe for fear mongering.
So what is the root cause of deer kills on highways? Human idiots driving too fast and not paying attention.
If there is a passenger and male driver, the passenger should be looking for deer entering the road and say ‘deer’. The driver should brake hard without losing control.
This does not work with women drivers. Women hear ‘dear’ and turn their head to make eye contact with sweetie pie and say ‘what honey’! My two sons in the back seat and I had ducked for cover because we knew a deer was coming through the windshield. We have no idea of how mom missed the deer.
One tenet of root cause analysis is that you can learn just as much from a non-fatal mistake. We practice yelling ‘moose’ when mom is driving.
For those who will use any excuse to shoot something, it is been my experience that deer are less predictable during hunting season. Hunting for food is fine. Killing something because you think is a pest is a slippery slope.
Your dog = rat named fluffy.

Reply to  Retired Kit P
July 2, 2016 2:11 pm

” If Cohen was writing today, texting while driving he might make the list. ”
Definitely. Using a phone while driving is one of the most dangerous, irresponsible things a person can do.

Steve Adams
July 2, 2016 12:40 pm

It has been touched upon in earlier comments but I think it bears repetition; the vast migration in North America and probably other European colonial expansion areas from small farms/villages/towns to large cities really became noticeable in the 1970s, at least in the areas of Canada and the USA that I have lived and travelled. All those settlement areas that are marginal for successful modern agriculture, went from cleared forest and grasslands under intensive management (annual clearing with fire being one of the main tools) by families living on the land year round to zero management lands used only for recreation, in the span of one generation in many cases.
In a way those lands are going through a similar transition to the aftermath of a large forest fire. Have average temperatures changed enough to move the range of deer further north or did they just expand into areas previously farmed, with virtually an unlimited food supply and very few predators? Does anyone doubt that subsistence level settlement farmers, paying their taxes with the egg money, did not harvest deer, elk and moose for food, regardless of hunting limits? After all, they came to settle colonial areas partly because they could own their land. They came from European countries where the land owner owned the wild game living on their property or was given management rights by their crown land patent.
Also, from my personal experience, small farmers are quick to eradicate predators. I am not condemning them in any way as livestock and poultry lost to predation was food taken from your family. Have you ever seen a picture of a settlement family that included an obviously overweight person? My grandmother had her own 22/410 over/under for poultry protection and though I don’t think she weighed more than 100 lbs with her gum boots on, if she needed more firepower than that and the men weren’t nearby she would go get the “hunting” rifle and take care of the problem.
The exodus from family farms here in Canada, along with increased regulation of firearms and hunting caused a dramatic drop in hunting pressure on deer at almost the same time. We now have primarily urban populations, who only visit those rural settlement areas that are no longer farmed, for seasonal recreational use. Around here, the boreal forest is slowly returning. Most of the old fields are open meadow and fast growing deciduous trees and undergrowth with the tertiary coniferous tree species spreading.
I suspect that the limitations of forage and larger predator populations in areas of the boreal forest that had no settlement period are a much greater barrier to the spread of deer populations northward than even several degrees of average temperature change. Some increase in food supply due to CO2 fertilization might be defensible but I also suspect that trying to “tease” that out of normal cycles of predator/prey/hunting population relationships may be beyond the precision of scarce data.

Reply to  Steve Adams
July 2, 2016 1:50 pm

In the 1970’s in Connecticut, it was Big News to see a deer. As in, “Come quick, kids . . .!” Hunters rarely if ever took the legal limit. Nowadays? The limit has been raised, over and over again, the season lengthened, the weaponry permitted expanded. Some towns even have professional “controlled hunts” to cull the population. I myself frequently see whole HERDS of up to 30 individuals, running like caribou! This is something no one EVER expected to see. Why did they expand? With zero forest management or cutting as cited above, everything’s filling up with underbrush which is their food. You see twin and even triplet fawns every spring now. Plus, surburbanites are not only planting tons of ornamentals which they also eat avidly, they FEED the buggers with “Deer Chow” from local feed stores, luring them in for oooh! aaah! PICTURES. Three-quarters of these ex-city-dwellers think Nature is Disney. Do the math . . .

July 2, 2016 1:06 pm

Lyme is yet another disease ranchers deal with using anit-biotics.

Lyme disease in horses and cattle
Lyme disease has been diagnosed in humans, dogs, cats, horses, goat, sheep and cattle.
Grooming to detect ticks and prompt removal will help to minimize the risk of contracting Lyme disease. On horses, ticks are most likely to be found around the head, throat area, stomach, or under the tail. Ticks can be removed with tweezers by grasping the mouth parts of the tick adjacent to the skin and gently pulling back. If not done properly, the mouth parts of the tick can remain imbedded in the animal. If you are uncertain about the proper method for removing ticks, or would like information on tick repellents available, consult your veterinarian.
For horses and livestock, reducing tick habitat can prevent exposure to Lyme disease. This can be accomplished by keeping pastures mowed down to make areas less desirable for ticks, and by removing brush and wood piles from pasture areas to deter rodents that may carry ticks.
Symptoms of Lyme disease in horses and cattle may include lameness, joint pain and/or stiffness, shifting from limb to limb, and weight loss.
Cattle may also develop a fever and horses may exhibit behavioral changes. Most cattle and horses do not display any symptoms of the disease.
Diagnosis of Lyme disease in horses and cattle is based on risk of exposure, clinical symptoms and blood testing.
Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics, and the animal normally response within a few days of treatment.

Conventional ranchers must treat their animals with antibiotics because animals get a lot of horrible diseases. The organic activist movement may also be a factor in the spread of Lyme. Cattle need a varied diet and protection from heartworm, Lyme, and other diseases.

Reply to  Zeke
July 2, 2016 1:55 pm

The animals mostly need strong immune systems, which is a function of proper management and feeding. In horses, there is much debate about whether, and how, Lyme actually manifests. What we DON’T know dwarfs what we think we “know.” But one thing I can tell you for sure, having lived here all my life–it is not NEARLY as big a problem as the hysteria-mongers want everyone to think. Most of the time, man or beast, 2 weeks on Doxy and you’re good to go. The symptoms are usually gone within 3 days on it. But as someone said above, “mysterious” is a great starting point for the exploiters of Fear.

Clyde Spencer
July 2, 2016 2:14 pm

There is some evidence that the blue-bellied lizard native to California has a natural immunity to the spirochete, and may even be able to kill it in the host ticks.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
July 2, 2016 3:11 pm

Very interesting. The Borrelia spirochete lives in the mid-gut of all stages of the tick at very low levels. The conventional wisdom is that it takes 24 hours and more of feeding for the spirochete to multiply to infectious levels and travel to the tick mouth parts.
Lane, R. S.; Mun, J.; Eisen, L.; Eisen, R. J. (2006). “Refractoriness of the Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis) to the Lyme Disease Group Spirochete Borrelia bissettii”. Journal of Parasitology 92 (4): 691–696. doi:10.1645/GE-738R1.1

Reply to  Doug Huffman
July 3, 2016 8:24 am

It is important to distinguish between species of the Borrelia to know how long it takes for infective spirochaetes to get from tick mid-gut to mouth salivary glands. For specific species & their respective carrier see (2011) Rudenko, et al.
“Updates on Borellia burgdorferi sensu lato complex with respect to human health”.
Possibly the quickest (in time lapse) tick borne Borrelia to be infective to blood of new host is the species B. afzelii. Furthermore, the tick species I. ricinus seems to be more adapted to hosting the B. afzelii than other Borrelia versions.
Ticks I. scapularis & I. pacificus are relatively slow to pass on Borrelia (~40hrs?), while tick I.ricinus nymphs (adults not as rapidly) feeding on vertebrate blood transmit infection in less than 24 hours. At issue is not only how fast different Borelia get
to any kind of tick’s salivary glands, but also how long that species of Borrelia takes to re-orientate that any one kind of tick’s genes to start making the vector virulence proteins that must be passed into the bitten vertebrate’s blood in order to overcome early immune defenses. For orientation try (2008) Hovius, et al. “Salp15 binding to DC-SIGN inhibits cytokine expression by impairing both nucleosome and mRNA stabilizations”; free full text from PLOS Pathogens division

July 2, 2016 3:08 pm

The deer in my northcentral Florida neighborhood have been decreasing for the past 8 years with the decline in the economy. Practically everyone shoots the deer on their property for food, and if you don’t want to, someone will volunteer to do it for you.
Definitely need to protect yourself from ticks, as they are plentiful. Tuck in your pants and shirt tails, spray clothes with deet, and apply an oil based spray to your skin to keep the little buggers from digging in too quickly. Bug checks immediately following forays into the wilds, which could be your front yard, is a necessity.
Most likely the decline in hunting has caused the deer tick explosion. If people are not going to hunt the deer, then local govts. should organize hunting parties several times per year. Overpopulation of deer is dangerous to people driving cars, so this problem should not be treated lightly..
Also, there is medicine you can give pets to kill fleas, ticks, heart worms, and other parasites. Not always pleasant, but outdoor animals need protection too.

July 2, 2016 5:42 pm

I think it makes more sense that the transportation of tick-infested livestock (and pets) all over the US, which is much easier to do these days than it was a few decades ago, has a larger role to play in the spread of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases than previously acknowledged.
Expanding deer populations certainly play a role , but livestock (particularly sheep) are frequently moved around the country, to places without a sizeable native deer population. .
Nothing to do with climate change.

Crispin in Waterloo
July 2, 2016 7:19 pm

Obviously the return of forest cover is the main promoter of deer retreats and shelter. The forests have exploded with the deer in tow, absorbing CO2 and breeding ticks in consequence.
It seems the use of DDT isn’t going to help anything. The burning, yes, maybe, but the deer population is probably the biggest issue. They are a road hazard and health threat. It is unnatural.
The best long term solution is to inoculate the deer and people. It works with wild foxes and rabies.

Sandy In Limousin
July 2, 2016 11:46 pm

I remember several cows dying from Red Water Disease in on a neighbours Perthshire farm when I was a boy.
Babesiosis (Redwater fever)

Aaron Hoffman
July 3, 2016 6:40 am

Deer have become ‘rats with hooves’, especially white-tailed deer.

Capn Mike
July 3, 2016 10:41 am

OK, all you tin foil hat fans. It seems that Lyme CT, where the disease suddenly appeared in the ’70’s, is the ferry terminus for the Plum Island ferry. Did someone carry something home from work one night?

Theo Goodwin
Reply to  Capn Mike
July 3, 2016 8:18 pm

You can buy books on the topic. Some argue that Lyme escaped from military research at Plum Island. Others argue that it was weaponized and then escaped. I have not read them.

Theo Goodwin
July 3, 2016 6:56 pm

I have a son who is twenty-one and who contracted Lyme when he was ten years old. We saw an army of doctors over the years and he was diagnosed with Lyme when he was 16. He has been under treatment for the last five years and has improved considerably. He is able to take two college courses per semester.
Reading the posts above, I see that some people are well informed about Lyme and have some useful things to say. Right off the bat, I want everyone to know that the CDC changed its estimate of new cases from 30,000 annually to 300,000 and made that change about two years ago. Lyme is endemic from Virginia north and west to the middle of Ohio. Its range has spread rapidly and continues to spread. To some degree, it is everywhere. You can get it in Arizona or Florida but the risk is really great in the area I mentioned above. For those of you who are skeptics about Lyme, find a large animal veterinarian near your place of residence. They will tell you off the top of their heads how many horses or other large animals have Lyme in the county or city. Vets have a superior test for Lyme but it is not approved for humans.
As regards the climate change hypothesis, there is no reason to believe it. The spread of Lyme has been caused by two things (1) the huge increases in the number of deer and (2) total breakdown of barriers between humans and deer. In Virginia, deer are everywhere except right downtown. They are in the near suburbs and the far suburbs. I have gone out my front door at three in the morning and been challenged by a deer who was happily eating acorns. People think they are cute.
To keep your yard free of ticks you have to keep out the deer and you have to make sure that the leaves underneath your shrubs are removed annually. If the fellow next door does not do the same, then you are hardly better off. Eradicating Lyme from the suburbs requires eradicating the deer.
The nymph stage of the deer tick is the most dangerous because it can be darn near microscopic yet it can transmit Lyme and several other bacterial infections that often accompany Lyme. When you check yourself for ticks use a magnifying glass.
The symptoms caused by Lyme and the other tick born bacteria can be horrendous. I know first hand because my family and I have been on a five year odyssey through clinics and medical facilities seeking treatment for my son. Some physicians, LLMDs (Lyme literate MDs), have developed various regimens that are effective in eliminating the bacteria. Here is the catch. The effective treatments are really harsh. Many people, including my son, could not handle them. So, he is taking a gentler but longer road. He suffered greatly with Lyme. He had severe arthritis, some wasting, some nervous system complaints, and his immune system is a mess. But progress is being made. I have seen far worse. I have seen adults who had been vital confined to a wheel chair for years and some of them have little hope of improving. A young man who suffers from Lyme and his parents came over recently to borrow some medical equipment. He too is 21 but about 5′ 6″ and 90 pounds. His fingers were the thinnest I have seen. Looking at his parents, he should have been 6′ 1″ and 200 pounds.
Be careful. Remember: Virginia north and west to central Ohio. Lyme is everywhere but not like that corridor. Senator Kelly Ayotte has introduced legislation to increase government resources dedicated to Lyme disease. Please support her efforts if you are so inclined.

July 4, 2016 8:48 pm

Read a book named “Lab 257” and you might just come to a different cause for lyme disease.
Ground zero was Plum Island where a bio-weapons lab operated. At first their security was first rate but over time due to budget cuts and the “do we really need that much security?” attitude deer and other animals started visiting the island and gong back to the mainland.
They had a tick colony but had to destroy it because, ahem, they “lost containment”. That and all the other nonsense in and around it will shock you (maybe not, depending on how jaded you are).
All circumstantial but an interesting idea as to where it came from.

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