As Canadians, global warming often seems to be the problem of some other world, a world inhabited by desert sands and date palms. Shorter winters and rising temperatures are hardly the stuff from which boogies to infest our dreams would seem to be fashioned, yet warming temperatures are bringing new and hitherto unimagined concerns to bear—or deer for that matter.
Harsh winters have a definite upside, inhibiting as seems to be the case, many of the more poisonous and nasty creatures that Mother Nature has dreamed up to inhabit warmer climes.
One of those relatively new threats is the lowly tick. Well not so much the tick as to what hitchhikes along with these little bloodsucking creatures—Lyme disease.
As the fastest spreading vector borne disease in North America, Lyme disease has been elevated to a real concern, particularly in regions where deer are common. As we are generally blessed with a surfeit of deer, so will we also be cursed with a bounty of borrelia burgdoreri, the Lyme disease bacterium that is spread through the bite of the blacklegged tick (deer tick, ixodes scapularis if you please). If not now (as the Sudbury and District Health Unit attests), then in the all too near future.
Accustomed to taking walks through the woodlands and meadows with our canine companions bounding about through the tall grass beside us, or letting the cat out for the night, we can bring those bacterium bearing insects too close to home.
It isn’t just humans who can be infected with Lyme disease. Dogs, horses and even cattle can contact the disease.
So with rising temperatures increasing the range of the blacklegged tick exponentially across the landscape, it behooves us all to remain vigilant against ticks, examining our pets and children upon their return from the tall grasses of nature to ensure they are not carrying unwanted passengers.
Global warming will bring with it many unanticipated threats and, even with our best efforts, it’s impact will remain with us for the next couple of generations. We must each of us remain on our guard against these threats in a way that we have never been called upon before.
Medical professionals are going to be called upon to spread their imaginations further to diagnose new and unfamiliar threats and those costs will be borne by each and every one of us into the future.
It seems Old Man Winter was a better friend to us than we had ever imagined—and global warming will certainly prove to be a fickle friend to those who might be tempted to welcome its embrace.