The Voice


The Voice


The Voice

Don’t let bloodsuckers drain your fun this summer

     As the Earth warms the effects of climate change are seen everywhere. Sunfish have been observed swimming in Alaskan marinas, the arctic ice caps are quickly melting and tick and mosquitoes who carry dangerous diseases go unchecked and accumulate to absurd numbers.

     Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis, rabbit fever and Powassan virus are the diseases outdoor enthusiasts will have to fight off if they come across a mosquito or tick while they play outside or go for a hike.

     The warming weather is to blame for the surge in tick numbers. Warmer winters have not been killing off the pesky bugs as they should and extended summers create a playground for them to annoy people and spread Lyme’s as well as other illnesses.

     “For most of these diseases, there are no vaccines and no treatment, so the only way to stop outbreaks is through mosquito control, which is expensive and rarely stops outbreaks. Miami, for instance, was the only city in the Western Hemisphere to halt a Zika outbreak with pesticides,” writes Donald G. McNeil Jr. in his article “Tick and Mosquito Infections Spreading Rapidly, C.D.C. Finds.”

     Though the idea that climate change is to blame is hotly contested by some scientists who believe other factors play a role. Some also are afraid of toeing that divisive political line.

     Trump and other conservative politicians have often downplayed the effects of climate change and have gone so far as to say it’s all just a hoax. This has led many organizations to question whether or not they should make claims that include climate change due to fear of backlash from the President and his like-minded followers.

     Ignoring climate change is dangerous and its serious effects need to be seen for what they are. While the tick problem is more complicated than just warmer weather, climate change does play a significant role in this issue.

     Some other reasons for the increase in the tick population is that suburb forests have gotten thicker as farming moved to the west and fire-based heating was traded for coal, oil and gas. Deer and rodents, ticks preferred hosts, have moved into the new growth forests and as deer hunting has also waned, they bring with them ticks and tick-borne diseases.

     For many tick-borne diseases there are no cures or vaccines, which is why it is imperative that those who will be spending time outdoors this summer make sure they properly protect themselves.

     The first step towards armoring against ticks and mosquitoes is to cover exposed skin. This may not be the most comfortable thing with the heat of the summer but it should be done especially if one is venturing on a hike in the woods. Some clothes are even pretreated with insecticides that will repel some of the insects.

     If covering up just isn’t an option, outdoorsy people should at least spray bug repellent on their shoes. Ticks will often use the shoes to get to the skin on the legs, so spraying shoes with bug spray will help keep them at bay.

     After a day outside, one should always immediately strip down and check their body for ticks either riding on them or burrowed in the skin. If they are found already burrowed, ticks can be pulled out with tweezers. Make sure to grab the head, not just the body; the head can still live even if the body gets detached.

     Though the tick and mosquito issue sounds terrible, people should definitely not spend the summer entirely indoors. As long as one takes the proper precautions they should be fine to enjoy the beautiful weather that summer has to offer.

Taylor is a senior Mass Communications major. She is an International Peer Mentor and the former Editor-in-Chief for The Voice.

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