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Ticks Take Off

By Climate Central

Ticks present an increasing threat to public health. In addition to the increase in deer populations and land use changes that have given ticks a boost, climate change has also impacted the size and geographical distribution of tick populations. Research by Brownstein et al. suggests some retraction in habitat suitability for ticks, particularly in the Southeast. However, they predict a net 68.9 percent increase in suitable tick habitats in North America by the 2080s.

Lyme disease, a tick-borne illness, has increased substantially, likely driven by growing deer populations. Between 1991 and 2013, the incidence of Lyme disease doubled, particularly affecting the Northeast. Furthermore, the CDC suggests that the actual number of cases is significantly higher than those being reported. The trend is expected to continue as the climate continues to change. Scientists anticipate that warming winters will contribute to this increase, as habitats become more conducive for ticks. While climate change may make some of the hottest areas of the country unsuitable for vector species, for the most part, conditions are becoming increasingly favorable for these pests.