2017 a big year for ticks in the Northeast?

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy takes lyme disease so seriously they list lime disease at the top of their health page ahead of even sanitation.  For that reason when NPR posts a story with the headline Forbidding Forecast for Lime disease in Northeast it is worth paying attention to.

The reasoning follows that a study from 2005 determined that an increase in mouse populations are correlated with an increase in Lyme disease incedence.  Therefore a “mouse plague” observed by a husband and wife team of Rick Ostfeld (coauthor of the 2005 journal study) and Felicia Kessing in the Hudson River Valley should indicate 2017 will have higher incidence than normal of Lyme disease.

I am a bit skeptical as to whether 2017 will be much worse than the last few years.  There are no solid numbers to back up the claim of a mouse plague in 2016 and all references I have found to one have been since the NPR article was published.  

Just because I’m skeptical doesn’t mean I don’t take the warning litely.  Virginia to Maryland is known tick country.  A chance at a poorly understood, long term, debilitating, chronic illness is nothing to take lightly.  If that means following best practices by coating my clothing in permethrin, wearing long sleeves and a hat, tucking my shirt into my pants and my pants into my socks, using a bug shelter at night, and performing routine body checks, I’m in.

If you’re interested in identification of found ticks the University of Rhode Island has you covered though tickencounter.org.  They are also looking for pictures of all ticks found so if you find one submit the picture.

Finally for those unfortunate enough to find a tick bite knowing the symptoms of Lyme disease is a good place to start.  The bulls eye rash is normally present, but not always.  Also understand that while Lyme is the most common tickborne disease the CDC has identified 14 other tickborne diseases across the United States.  For this reason the Appalachian Trail Conservancy recommends being vigilant if experiencing fever, chills, headaches, and muscle aches.

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