Scientists synthesize tick spit protein for first time, Phys.org, May 26, 2020Evasins, as the proteins are known, act in human blood to suppress a class of transmitter proteins, which is why when bitten, we often don’t notice a tick has burrowed into our skin. Scientists now want to see how these proteins can be used for treating human diseases, including potential application for lung inflammation in respiratory illness, such as COVID-19.
How the Lyme disease epidemic is spreading and why ticks are so hard to stop, , The Conversation, 2020One reason Lyme disease may have remained obscure in the United States for so long before beginning to spread in the late 20th century had to do with the extensive deforestation to create farmland that began after colonists arrived in North America. With the loss of forests, deer disappeared from most of the Northeast. The only known populations in the Northeast were in the Adirondacks and on Long Island. Without deer, deer ticks, also known as black-legged ticks, were rare, and the bacterium that causes Lyme disease was contained in isolated tick populations, primarily in northern Wisconsin and on Long Island.
That changed when deer were reintroduced for hunting in the Northeast during the early 1900s and began to repopulate new forests.
Significant Reduction in Tick Bites Found via Permethrin-Treated Clothing, Etomology Today, May 2020Strategies to reduce exposure to tick bites are an important public health goal. One promising strategy is wearing clothing impregnated with the insecticide permethrin. Permethrin repels ticks, causing them to drop off clothing and, with longer exposure, makes them unable to bite. But how effective is permethrin-treated clothing in protecting against blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis), the primary vector of Lyme disease, and are there ways to improve its efficacy? These questions were investigated recently by Meshnick and University of Rhode Island collaborator Thomas Mather, Ph.D., and their teams, and their findings are presented in a new report published this month in the Journal of Medical Entomology.
The study is the first random control field trial to test the effectiveness of long-lasting permethrin treatment on clothing against bites by the blacklegged tick. In addition to vectoring Lyme disease, blacklegged ticks are vectors of anaplasmosis, babesiosis, hard tick relapsing fever, and Powassan virus.
What’s Happening to the Monarch Butterfly Population?, NYTimes, March 20, 2020Researchers don’t know if the smaller populations of monarchs are not making it to breeding sites, not finding plants to nourish them along the way, or not able to find mates.
Lyme Disease in Washtenaw County, Washtenaw.org, 2020Washtenaw County is now confirmed as an area where Lyme disease can be transmitted. Lyme disease is spread by the bite of an infected blacklegged tick.
Note: Case numbers reflect individuals who met the CDC criteria for Confirmed and Probable case classification for Lyme disease. In 2017, a Suspected classification was added. Lyme transmission was confirmed in Washtenaw County in 2016.
*These counts are preliminary and subject to change.
Even with DNA detection, Asian carp continue to evade scientists, Salon, March 15, 2020Part of the problem with Asian carp is the difficulty catching them. When things change on the very edge of their territory, where the fish are sparser. At low abundances, they evade nets, as well as the electrical currents biologists sometimes use to temporarily stun and catch the creatures.
The team took samples throughout, and following everyone’s initial surprise that the method worked, they found Asian carp DNA much closer to Lake Michigan than anyone had anticipated. Soon Michigan filed a lawsuit against the State of Illinois, demanding the closure of two shipping locks near Chicago, a move that could have decimated the city’s shipping industry. (Neighboring states joined Michigan in its fight, but in the end, the waterways remained open and so far, Asian carp haven’t established populations in the Great Lakes.)
The case never made it to court, but scientists still found themselves caught in the middle of a political battle with huge economic consequences.
Potential treatment for Lyme disease kills bacteria that may cause lingering symptoms, study finds, Medical Express, March 13, 2020“We have been screening potential drugs for six years,” Pothineni said. “We’ve screened almost 8,000 chemical compounds. We have tested 50 molecules in the dish. The most effective and safest molecules were tested in animal models. Along the way, I’ve met many people suffering with this horrible, lingering disease. Our main goal is to find the best compound for treating patients and stop this disease.”
Outdoors: Archery hunters assist in controlling urban deer numbers, The Blade, March 9, 2020Metroparks officials have cited population studies that have indicated some areas of the park system have far more white-tailed deer than the landscape can effectively support. Some park areas had so many deer that their numbers were more than four times the biological carrying capacity of the habitat.
Officials have explained that culls are necessary to reduce the ecological damage the overabundance of deer are doing in some of the park system’s most sensitive and vulnerable areas, with seedlings and spring wildflowers being significantly impacted.
The Corner of N.Y.C. That’s Overrun by Deer, Turkeys and Feral Cats, NY Times, March 6, 2020 Some Staten Island residents would like to hunt deer to reduce their numbers, but the city is pushing a vasectomy program. The borough is ground zero for unwanted visitors who are proliferating so abundantly that they turning into urban pests- first, there are the deer — many of whom, residents say, swim across from New Jersey — and eat seedlings, damage woodlands and cause dozens of collisions with drivers every year.
Five Michigan DNR workers contracted tuberculosis, likely from testing deer. The Bridge, March 2020 Five workers at Michigan’s Wildlife Disease Laboratory have been diagnosed with tuberculosis as the lab struggled to test thousands of deer for chronic wasting disease.
The Department of Natural Resources confirmed the TB cases in response to inquiries from Bridge Magazine this week. The infected workers have undergone several months of antibiotic treatment, and hundreds of other DNR employees were offered testing.
The outbreak, the first of its kind at the 10-person lab, was diagnosed last summer. Workers at the lab were conducting tests on thousands of deer in search of chronic wasting disease and bovine tuberculosis, which is commonly found in cattle but also in deer and other animals.