Just came upon an interesting article in the NY Times from a few days ago. Fall 2010 had record high acorn production, which in turn created a very large population of field mice and (presumably) a large population of deer ticks on those mice. This fall we’re seeing a record low acorn crop, meaning that large population of mice will crash–and all the deer ticks will go looking for new hosts–like trail runners and hikers (not exactly what the article said but….). The big concern is for next year–although ticks can be active nearly year-round (don’t let your guard down now!), spring and summer are especially bad because the nymphs, which are very small and thus may go undetected on your body, are very active at that time of year.
“We expect 2012 to be the worst year for Lyme disease risk ever,” said Richard S. Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y. “We are already planning educational materials.”
Start training now….practice your tick check procedure! Ticks usually need to be attached for 36-48 hours in order to transmit the spirochete (bacteria) that causes Lyme disease, so if you are very vigilant and thorough about checking yourself everyday, you can greatly reduce your risk for Lyme disease. Deer ticks are pretty small buggers, though–easy to miss, so it doesn’t hurt (and is potentially more fun) to have someone else check you over also. Areas that bend (back of knees, etc) are common places to find ticks, but they can attach anywhere including the scalp so be thorough! I’ve never removed a deer tick, but if they’re anything like wood ticks then they’re very difficult to get out and their small size would make it that much more difficult. You don’t want to just break off the body and leave the mouth parts embedded, nor do you want to squeeze the body such that you force the tick’s body contents into you as this could transmit the spirochete. Here’s the standard advice on tick removal, but at least in the case of wood ticks it’s a lot easier said than done: http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/removal/index.html
Lots of good resources online if you want to read more, but I think the American Lyme Disease Foundation is pretty credible: http://www.aldf.com/lyme.shtml Sources like the CDC (linked above) should also be trustworthy.
by Jim Porter,l Neversink, NY via the FLT e-news list