Odd consequences of warming climate

Grist published a study today on how temperature changes impact tick behavior. All you dog owners, PAY ATTENTION! Quote: “A new study from the University of California-Davis shows that climate change may prompt these tiny-headed, eight-legged blood bags to start choosing people over dogs.”

And in case you’ve forgotten or did not know the dangers of ticks living on humans, quote: “Brown Dog ticks can carry a disease called Rocky Mountain spotted fever. It causes headaches, muscle aches, and other flu-like symptoms in humans. “Probably not that different from COVID,” Backus said. It’s highly treatable with antibiotics if the infection is caught within the first five days of a patient showing symptoms. Without treatment, the fatality rate can top 20 percent.”

Here’s the conclusion, quote: “The disheartening one is that the U.S. is likely to see more cases of this disease as temperatures rise. Research shows that climate change will lead to more 100-degree days across the U.S. Backus doesn’t know if the results of her experiment translate to other types of ticks. But cases of Spotted Fever Rickettsiosis, a category that includes RMSF, Rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis, Pacific Coast tick fever, and rickettsialpox, have risen dramatically over the past couple of decades, from 495 cases in 2000 to a peak of 6,248 cases in 2017. Cases of other types of tick-borne illnesses are on the rise, too. “It’s absolutely worth studying,” she said. The encouraging takeaway is that public health officials in warmer regions of the country can use the study’s findings to be better prepared for outbreaks of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. “We can know when we should be looking harder,” Backus said. “We know when we should be doing more tick control.”

For me, the key question is: how many more of these behavioral changes are going to occur and what will be the impact of those changes … stopping them completely is probably no longer possible, sadly.

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