On July 2, 2009, I participated in a podcast hosted by Robb Russell of WildLifePro.net. While focusing primarily on the release of my book, “Unseen Hazards”, I strayed from my notes on three occasions to include relative information I had run across after the book was published. Two of these items relate to ticks:
(a) According to Chuck Lubelczyk, field biologist for Maine Medical Center’s Vector-borne Disease Lab located in South Portland, Maine, “We get 100 deer ticks off a single deer at a tagging station on opening day of hunting season. Each tick, if you dropped it in the woods, could lay 3000 eggs apiece. So from one deer alone you could have 300,000 ticks next season.” And that’s just one deer, in one small patch of Maine’s vast wilderness. Though it is believed that only 1% of recognized tick bites result in Lyme Disease, this one deer was potentially carrying 3,000 ticks capable of infecting a human the following season. Is it any wonder that Lyme Disease is spreading so rapidly?
(b) Have you ever wondered what predator looks for ticks on the menu? The thought occurred to me several weeks ago and I realized I had not a clue, so I busied myself with some research on the subject. Wild turkeys, pheasants, and guinea fowl are said to consume ticks in the process of self-grooming, which means they are also hosts. Studies have thus far failed to establish that this represents an effective means of tick control. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, “. . . fire ants are noteworthy tick predators. Engorged ticks may also become parasitized by the larvae of some wasps . . . but these have not significantly reduced tick populations.”
(c) The third item relates to the new CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Rabies post-exposure protocol recommendation issued on June 24, 2009, which reduces the number of Rabies vaccine shots from 5 to 4. The new protocol is to administer Rabies Immune Globulin (Human) at 20 IU/kg body weight on day 0, plus 4 (rather than 5) 1ml shots of vaccine intramuscularly on days 0, 3, 7, and 14. The recommendations for the post-exposure management of previously vaccinated individuals remain unchanged.
(a) Bob Moore, “Lyme disease continues its spread in Maine”, On The Waterfront, July 1, 2008.
(b) “Tick Control”, The Merck Veterinary Manual, 2008.
(c) “ACIP votes to recommend reduced rabies vaccination series”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, June 24, 2009.