September 26, 2020
Ticks have been around for at least 100 million years (they used to feed on dinosaur blood). Their bodies contain anti-freeze to help them survive cold winters. And evolution has endowed them with a superb biting technique, leaving the host unaware that the tick is feasting on it: when it bites, it injects analgesics to stop the pain, antihistimines and anti-inflammatories to prevent itching and swelling, and anticoagulants to keep the blood flowing for the several days that the tick will be dining. They are also a vector for a host of nasty viral and bacterial infections: Lyme Disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Powassan Virus Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and tularemia.
And they’re not going away.
In fact, as winters get less harsh and summers warmer, ticks continue to spread northward. According to this article at Bloomberg.com, tick-borne illnesses in the U.S. have more than doubled in recent years, climbing from 22,000 in 2004 to 47,000 in 2018. Lyme Disease was, until recently, unheard of in Canada. Now, there are about 2,000 cases a year. In eastern Canada, researchers have found that ticks are encroaching north at the rate of 31 miles a year. By 2009, they had reached the Arctic Circle.
Be careful out there.