Friday, January 02, 2009

Are Higher Temperatures Making Ticks More Aggressive?
A study on dog ticks has lead researchers to believe that warming temperatures make the ticks more likely to bite humans.

Dec. 30, 2008 -- The brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) rarely bites people, far preferring the taste of dog. But global warming could be changing that, exposing people to dangerous diseases as a result.

In the spring of 2007, three men in France became seriously ill after sustaining bites from disease-infected dog ticks. The bites occurred after the hottest April since 1950, said Didier Raoult, a professor at the University of Marseille School of Medicine in France.

The incident reminded Raoult of two other recent cases. A 2004 outbreak of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in Arizona was also associated with dog ticks. And during the exceptionally hot summer of 2003, a man died after 20 brown dog ticks bit him at once.

I wonder if this is true of other ticks. In 2001, I hiked the entire Appalachian Trail and no one I know of got lyme disease. (Lyme disease is carried by deer ticks.) In 2006 and 2007, there were several people with lyme disease. 2001 was a cool summer on the AT.

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