This month

October 2019

Residents say Grosse Ile has a deer problem, and township isn’t solving it, Detroit Free Press, Oct 4, 2019From 2009 to 2018, the island had an annual deer cull. Four permitted hunters would cull an allotted amount of deer, keeping the population in check and the island healthy. In January, Grosse Ile’s police chief canceled the 2019 cull. In the months since, township residents have increasingly questioned why, and township officials have been unsuccessfully trying to give an answer that sticks.

Michigan’s largest deer processing facility severely damaged in fire, Free Press, Oct 4, 2019Michigan’s largest deer processing facility was severely damaged in a large fire early Friday morning. The facility’s destruction also comes just as Michigan’s deer hunting season is opening.

September 2019

The Big Apocalyptic Bird Story Everyone Read This Week May Have Missed Some Necessary Nuance, Mother Jones, Sept 28, 2019Todd Arnold, a conservation biologist at the University of the Minnesota who studies bird population dynamics, made a similar point. “If you take away the 40 biggest decliners from the dataset, then what’s left behind is hundreds of birds, some of which are declining, some of which are increasing. But, on average, the increases outweigh the declines,” Arnold said.
Deer hunting season to begin at Columbia Land Conservancy properties, HudsonValley360, Sept 26, 2019
CHATHAM – Columbia County’s deer population causes damage to cars, forests, and crops every year. To responsibly manage the deer population at Public Conservation Areas, the Columbia Land Conservancy is partnering with local hunting clubs this deer season. “Our hunting program is designed to reduce deer populations so that native plant species can thrive. We are really grateful to the sportsmen’s clubs for providing volunteers to monitor the hunting.”

City will spend another $2.5M to resume deer vasectomies for five more years, SILive, Sept 16, 2019The Parks Department awarded White Buffalo Inc. the $2.5 million contract to lead the next five-year round of vasectomies, and with the new contract, the company stands to make a total of $6.6 million for what will become an eight-year effort to sterilize the Island’s bucks.
Lyme Disease Is Baffling, Even to Experts, The Atlantic, Sept 2019After a decade and a half in the dark, I at last had a possible name for my problems. Yet instead of feeling relief, I felt I had woken into a nightmare. I wasn’t sure whether the disease I had really was untreated Lyme. Even if I did have Lyme, there was little agreement about how to treat a patient like me—whose test results were equivocal and who had been diagnosed very late in the course of the disease—and no guarantee that I would get better if I tried antibiotics.

August 2019

Ticks: They’re not just for hikers anymore, Boston Globe, Aug 23, 2019Lennon’s case highlights a gap in the public health system, says Dr. David Crandell, who co-directs the Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness at Boston’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. He says many primary care providers don’t question negative test results for Lyme and other pathogens carried by ticks. “You have to treat the symptoms, not the tests,” says Crandell. Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health says official Lyme numbers may represent only a tenth of actual cases. Undercounting comes from an arduous reporting process and other reasons, says Dr. Jeffrey Gelfand, an infectious disease specialist at MGH. Gelfand says DPH’s estimate is probably correct, and the same holds true for other tick-borne illnesses. Gelfand, who was not involved in Lennon’s care, does not believe he could have had babesiosis for two years. Crandell says such incidents do happen.
Developing New Guidelines on Lyme Disease, New York Times, Aug 19, 2019For all of you with strong opinions and relevant experiences regarding Lyme disease, the public comment period on the 2019 Draft Guidelines for the Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment of Lyme Disease has been extended until Sept. 9.
The recommendation used to be that doctors should not prescribe doxycycline for children under 8 years old, because of worry that this class of antibiotics might lead to tooth enamel damage and discoloration. While that can happen with tetracycline, a related antibiotic, Dr. Meissner said, the available evidence shows that doxycycline itself doesn’t do that.

Dave Borneman, Restoring Ann Arbor’s natural areas, Ann Arbor Observer, Aug 2019Deer, another hungry animal, have also become part of a prickly issue: abundant deer eat abundant native trees, including oak saplings. Although they play a part in the ecosystem, “from our perspective, the natural areas are taking a beating from the deer,” Borneman says. “Until we get the deer population in check, we’ll never be able to get the oak forests again.”

July 2019

Tickbusters on the Lookout for Lyme, New Yorker, July 29, 2019Each year, there are around three hundred thousand new cases of Lyme, many of them in New York, where the population of black-legged ticks, the primary vector for the disease, has exploded. Serino has launched an educational campaign to highlight the danger of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls “a growing threat.”
The symptoms of Lyme can be debilitating, from fever and achy joints to cognitive impairment. “There’s no vaccine, no good way of diagnosing it, and no good way of treating it,” Ostfeld said. “We’re trying to protect people from getting ill in the first place.”
“And their saliva!” Ostfeld interrupted. “They have a pharmacopoeia in their saliva. How do you stay attached to an animal without being detected, shrugged off, squished, or broken in half, for up to a week or so? You have analgesics to deaden the sensation around the bite, you have anticoagulants to keep the blood flowing, antihistamines to suppress any immune response, and they actually secrete a cement molecule that keeps them attached to the skin. The evolution of these traits that make them such a successful bloodsucking parasite is really impressive.”

ESA Position Statement on Tick-Borne Diseases, ESA, July 20, 2019The Entomological Society of America (ESA) strongly supports building a national strategyiusing Integrated Tick Management (ITM) to better control tick populations and reduce the rapidly escalating impacts of tick-borne diseases (TBD) on human and animal health.
The more recent explosive emergence of the blacklegged tick vectors of Lyme disease and co-infecting disease agents like those causing babesiosis and anaplasmosis has caught society and science in a severe “tick literacy deficit” allowing TBDs to explode, threaten the nation’s public health and economy, and accordingly, is the cause for significant new calls to action.

Beware of Lyme Disease in City Parks, Steve Dales CABC, July 29, 2019Since the deer tick (black-legged tick) is most responsible for Lyme disease, it’s no surprise that where there are deer, there’s likely Lyme. But there’s more to it than that. For example, in Chicago’s Lincoln Park, there are no deer. However, there are lots of dogs, decades of dogs walking and running through the park. And decades of dogs traveling up north to Minnesota or Wisconsin or headed off to wooded placed in Michigan for summer weekend getaways. Ticks have hitched a ride for years on those dogs, and they drop off in a Chicago park, or a Minneapolis park or even suburban Detroit park.

What Tick Saliva Does to the Human Body, Atlantic, July 25, 2019Ticks use saliva to manipulate the body of their hosts so their bites stay painless, itchless, and as unobtrusive as a bug swelling with blood can be. Scientists have since cataloged more than 3,500 proteins from the saliva of various tick species.
When a tick starts to feed, it secretes enzymes in its saliva that destroy a small ring of host tissue. This creates a “feeding cavity,” which Ribeiro likens to a “lake of blood.” “The tick sucks blood from that lake,” he says. For this strategy to work though, ticks also need to make proteins that prevent blood from clotting, as it normally wants to do in an injury site. Over the course of days, a host’s body will try to heal the wound by sending cells that make collagen. Normally, this would allow the wound to scar over, but tick saliva has molecules to counteract this, too.
Lastly, the tick has to evade a host’s immune system. Mammals have complex immune systems with multiple lines of defense, and tick saliva can neutralize pretty much all of them. To start, ticks secrete molecular “mops,” which bind to and neutralize histamine. Histamine is best known for causing itching and redness, but it also plays an important role in opening up blood vessels to allow immune cells to get to a site of injury. Tick saliva prevents this, so tick bites don’t itch and immune cells can’t get to the bite. Tick saliva also degrades pain-inducing molecular signals in a host. That’s why tick bites also do not hurt. Ticks then inject molecules that neutralize or evade a suite of white blood cells that would otherwise be eating or attacking an invader.

Mouse, not just tick: New genome heralds change in Lyme disease fight, Medical Press, July 25, 2019As they move forward with their investigations, the researchers say it remains very important for the public to continue safeguarding against Lyme disease by preventing tick bites. Information on how to protect people, pets and yards from the insects is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Deer Herd Management, Baltimore County, Environmental Protection and Sustainability, Revised July 24, 2019

In addition to hindering forest regrowth and reducing ecological diversity, overabundant deer populations act as hosts for Lyme and associated tick-borne diseases. They also destroy residential and commercial landscaping, damage agricultural crops and cause dangerous and expensive deer-vehicle collisions. Indeed, Baltimore County’s map (PDF) of deer-vehicle collisions reveals a concentrated belt of accidents across the middle, suburban portion of the County where deer are most abundant.

Coming to Terms With My Tick Anxiety, The Slate, July 3, 2019This past weekend, when I spotted a tick on my own child’s head, the fear I felt was something else. We took it off solemnly, with ceremony, and put it away for safekeeping—labeled with the date, in case she got sick and we needed to show it to a doctor. Ticks are terrifying now. And in the Northeast and the Upper Midwest, there are more of them than ever, or at least, more of them than we remember seeing.

Lyme disease is spreading across Michigan. But why?, Bridge, July 1, 2019The ticks typically live 2- to 3 years, and many factors can affect their numbers, including temperature, rainfall, humidity and availability of hosts to feed on. Michigan has plenty of such wildlife, which includes white-tailed deer, white-footed mice, chipmunks, shrews and American robins, said Jean Tsao, a professor at Michigan State University who has studied the blacklegged tick and its spread of bacteria for more than two decades.
But why is the bacteria spreading now, when it didn’t before? Researchers aren’t sure, Tsao said. One hypothesis: Michigan’s tick invasion, which probably spilled over from Wisconsin, just took a while to creep around Lake Michigan. But the U.P.’s Menominee County has seen infected blacklegged ticks since the late 1980s or early 1990s — apparently before they infiltrated northeast Wisconsin. Those Menominee spread west and north. It’s possible, but not likely that the Menominee ticks spilled into the Lower Peninsula. “We cannot say for sure.” Climate change may also play a role.

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