Excerpted from North Country NOW: (10/29/2016)
Even though I was born and raised in New York State, I never cease to be awestruck by the beauty of our changing seasons, and cannot imagine living in a place where the years pass with scant visible change in the environment. Yet there is one season I cannot abide, and it has arrived with a vengeance: hunting season.
Mind you, I have no problem with safety-trained folks traipsing through the woods this time of year toting rifles or compound bows. What I object to are all the unlicensed, eight-legged hunters which have (literally) come out of the woodwork lately: ticks. A decade ago it was unusual to find a single tick after a northern New York wilderness weekend, but now in many places all you have to do is set foot in the brush and you’re ambushed by hordes of black-legged ticks, commonly known as deer ticks.
Smaller and more difficult to see than most other ticks, deer ticks can transmit a number of serious diseases, including Lyme, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, and Powassan virus. In fact it’s possible for two or more diseases to be transferred by a single tick bite. A high percentage of infections come from the immature or “nymph” stage deer tick, tinier than a poppy seed and nearly impossible to detect (at leasnat for those of us over fifty) without magnification. The adults are not exactly huge, being a bit smaller than a sesame seed, but they are the ones most active during hunting season, ahnd any time when winter temperatures get above freezing.
In light of new research published this summer, we need to update our understanding of the risks posed by deer ticks. Honestly, not even Captain Hook is more terrified of ticks than I am, but no one can afford to stick their head in the sand. We’d probably end up with grit in our ears, which is uncomfortable, and worse yet, we could contract a tick-borne disease.
In a July 2016 presentation to fellow physicians, Dr. Nevena Zubcevik of the Harvard Medical School, and co-director of the Dean Center for Tick-Borne Illnesses, warned that the medical community is not keeping up with current findings. For example, “The conception that the tick has to be attached for 48 hours is completely outdated,” she said, citing studies that show ticks can transmit disease in as little as 10 minutes.