One thing people can agree on is their general dislike for ticks and deer ticks. These tiny creepy crawly bugs hitch a ride on you, your pets or on other animals looking for a free meal. They are known to carry multiple different diseases and there is a very good chance that Massachusetts is going to have a bumper crop this year.
Below is a recent article from the Boston Globe on deer ticks.
Only one sure thing about deer ticks: They will be out there
By Felice J. Freyer GLOBE STAFF
Tufts University professor Sam R. Telford III responded with a prolonged guffaw the other day when he heard the question, the same one he gets every spring: Will Massachusetts have a big population of deer ticks this year?
“Every year I’ve been wrong,” said Telford, who demurred this time. “It’s not because I don’t know anything about ticks.” Quite the contrary: A specialist in diseases transmitted by animals, he has spent decades studying the eight-legged fiends known to entomologists as Ixodes scapularis and to the rest of us as the bugs that transmit Lyme disease.
Besides, said Dr. Catherine M. Brown, state public health veterinarian, fluctuations in the deer population don’t matter much. “We are a state where Lyme risk exists everywhere, essentially every inch of our state,” Brown said. “Whether it’s a little bit worse one year or a little bit better one year does not change the fact that there will be too much disease transmission.”
People, she said, need to take precautions every year: Wear tick-protective clothing and insect repellent, and check for ticks after going outside.
Still, there is talk of a 2017 “tick apocalypse,” as one television station called it, apparently originating with research at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y. There, disease ecologist Richard S. Ostfeld has developed a theory that white-footed mice are the prophets of Lyme disease — and unlike Brown, he believes it’s worth raising awareness when the risk is higher.
Ticks feed on mice, and when mice are plentiful, the tiny blood-suckers are more likely to survive. They also have more opportunity to pick up the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.