Health

Is climate change impacting tick populations?

VERMONT (WFFF) — “They really did not used to be here. I grew up in Vermont and spent my childhood outdoors and really did not see ticks,” said Patti Casey of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. 

But how is climate change related to ticks and why are we seeing more of them? Well, warmer weather is one of several factors that have contributed to the spread of ticks in Vermont and the rise of tick-borne diseases.

“There are a whole bunch of factors, warmer temperatures, and changing weather patterns like drought, flooding, and bigger rainfall events. Those all interact in ways that we are still tracking and trying to see what effect they have.” said Casey.

However, other factors can also contribute to this such as changes in forest cover and changes in deer populations, which serve as hosts for tick-borne diseases. 

“There are a lot of landscape changes that are happening. A lot more development and suburbanization of the state and with that comes a lot more appealing environments,” said Casey.

This increase in tick population has also caused increased health risks to moose in northeastern portions of the state.

This lead Vermont fish and wildlife to issue a limited moose hunt in order to reduce the impact of winter ticks on the moose population. But how can you stay safe? 

“Jump in the shower, rinse off and while you are taking a shower do a full check.”

It is also recommended to wear a repellent containing up to 30% DEET. In Vermont illnesses are most often transmitted between early spring and late fall since ticks and most active during the warm months.

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