“As the deer snack, their ears, heads, necks and shoulders rub against vertical rollers that are treated with acaricide. Through grooming, the deer also transfer the acaricide to other parts of their bodies.”
Yes, some places, worried about Lyme disease, are spraying deer with chemicals to kill the ticks that carry the Lyme virus. I learned this, and other fascinating information, from health news reporter Jackie Farwell in a Bangor Daily News story published on August 11, 2015. You can read the entire story here.
Farwell reports that the Maine Medical Center Research Institute’s tick lab has created a new website, TicksInMaine.com. “This new website is specific to Maine and Mainers and focuses on prevention of tick-borne disease,” Dr. Peter Rand, the lab’s senior investigator, said in a news release.
Farwell’s story includes some scary photos of ticks, taken from the new website. But I was most impressed with the news that professionals can now destroy ticks. “Along with spraying both synthetic and plant-based acaricides (pesticides that kill arachnids, such as ticks), they’ve devised ways to covertly apply repellent to mice and deer, reports Farwell. These methods, while effective, are also, “expensive, require regular maintenance, and several states ban them due to concerns that congregating deer will promote the spread of infectious diseases.”
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree is bringing much-needed focus and attention to the Lyme disease problem spreading throughout our state. You may have read in the news recently of her outing, with researchers from the Maine Medical Institute, to gather ticks at Crescent Beach State Park in Cape Elizabeth.
“I knew deer ticks could be small,” she said, “but these were absolutely tiny. They were very hard to see even on white fabric with the help of an experienced scientist, so you know they would be incredibly difficult to spot on your clothes or a child. It showed me that we have to be increasingly vigilant in limiting our risk and exposure when we spend time outdoors, but that the overall problem goes beyond what we can do as individuals. We need to take the proper steps to address it as a whole, from managing tick populations to responding quickly to disease outbreaks.”
Pingree has been working for the past year to make Lyme and other tick-borne diseases a higher priority at the federal level. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, she was able to increase research funding on Lyme disease, as well as enact legislation that pushes relevant federal agencies to bring more attention to the disease. She has also requested more funding for tick management through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, asked the FDA to support the development of more accurate Lyme disease tests, and urged that the patient perspective be included in the development of new guidelines for treatment.
Pingree participated a few weeks ago in a community forum on North Haven, recognizing that large deer populations, ticks, and Lyme disease are of great concern to those who live and visit Maine’s many islands. I’ve been wondering lately how long Mainers in areas where Lyme has become a serious problem will put up with high numbers of deer. Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife may have to look seriously at the possibility of initiating some kind of chemical spraying of deer in those areas of high deer populations.