Last summer, in a town just outside New York, there was a tick.
This should sound unusual. Ticks are normal for the upper east coast; after all, tick-borne Lyme disease was identified for the first time in the neighborhood of Connecticut. But the machete, who secretly slid his sharp barbed mouth into an unlucky 66-year-old resident of Yonkers, was something new. This was the first invasive tick to arrive in the United States in 50 years and for the first time to bite a man. Maryn McKenna ( @marynmck ) is an assistant to WIRED, a senior researcher at the Institute for Investigative Journalism at the University of Brandes and the author of Big Chicken
. But this has made scientists realize how little they know about the affected insect known as the Asian globe: what diseases it transmits, where it prefers to live, and how it manages to move over long distances. Behind those unanswered questions there is a bigger problem: we have not paid much attention to ticks, as to other insects that carry diseases. We have a long way to catch up ̵
Until recently, the range of Asian sprouts was understood to be eastern China and Russia, Japan, Australia and New. Zealand and several Pacific islands. These countries contain a number of bacterial and viral diseases that infect humans, including potentially deadly haemorrhagic fever. He is even more afraid of the way he attacks cattle. This mite is propagated asexually, laying thousands of eggs at once and producing waves of offspring that extract so much blood that the bred cattle become weak and calves die. In August 2017, a woman who held a sheep on a property in the northwest corner of New Jersey, in the middle of a neighborhood of large houses and large lawns, entered the Hunttrong Health Department to complain that she had found ticks the animal. What she did not realize until the terrified employees were telling her was that she also had ticks on herself, more than 1,000 larvae with the size of spots all over her clothing.
Investigators gave the woman spare trousers and went. At home with her – where their boots were immediately covered with creeping larvae, many times more than would be normal for a property of this size. They found hundreds of ticks that sucked their ears under the coat of their poor sheep.
The insecticide took care of the sheep bugs, and the difficult frost in November eliminated those in the paddock. At that time, researchers at the Rutgers University identified it as a long-awaited tick, confirming the first observation of bugs outside the quarantine station (where twice in the 1960s they were taken out of animals brought to the United States). They had no idea where he came from, but they were wondering: Given that the paddock was so populated, how long were the ticks? Is it enough long that they can now move?
Obviously yes. CDC said last Wednesday that the exotic tick was found in 11 countries now. One is New York, where the Yonkers man lives, about 80 miles from the infected paddock. At the time of the bite he did not travel much – he was not outside Westchester County in a month. But it was not all that.
But when the investigators inspected the man's house, they found ticks and tick larvae around him. Surprisingly, they also found ticks where existing science says that ticks should not be: sunbathing in the middle of well-kept lawn rather than shaggy, shady grass. moved without warning, thriving in areas where they should not have been successful – and now it was a possible threat to human health.
The exotic Asian woodpecker has been found in 11 countries now. "says Bobby Prith, a physician and pathologist at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, who wrote a commentary from the medical journal responding to the bite news that was revealed last month in a medical journal. "Although I'm not surprised. We knew this mite was here, we knew he had the ability to bite people based on his behavior in other countries. So now this raises many more questions. "
The problem is finding answers. Researchers of ticks believe that their work is under-funded compared to other insect vectors. After all, the American public health system was based on mosquito control: The first local health department, established in Philadelphia in 1794, rose from the devastating yellow fever epidemic a year ago. The CDC itself came out of a World War II program designed to suppress malaria to the south, where the disease has caused chaos in preparation for war, leaving soldiers unfit for work and taking equipment for offline production
To date, CDC maintains national maps of the different types of mosquitoes. States, counties and cities have over 700 mosquito mitigation areas, and the US Mosquito Control Association estimates that these agencies collectively spend $ 200 million a year to capture, analyze, and kill bugs. Ticks do not come close to such coordinated attention or money. America's entomological society warned four years ago that the US needed comprehensive strategies to combat ticks, but only a few countries, such as New York in 2018 and Connecticut this year, even set up tick monitoring and control programs  Reasons to do this: The ticks and diseases they transmit – not only Lyme disease, but also babesiosis, erlichiosis, anaplasmosis, etc. – pose a huge public health problem. Last year, the CDC reported that cases of insect-borne diseases were tripled between 2004 and 2016; three quarters of these cases are caused by ticks. During the study, the CDC identified seven diseases that passed on people, some of them fatal, either new or new to the United States.
When these diseases are diagnosed in humans, the CDC requires that they be reported to the Agency so that the data can be summarized and mapped. But teka scientists, such as Rick Ostfeld, an ecologist of the disease at New York's Institute of Ecosystem Research, have been saying for years that routine sampling and sampling by ticks is the most necessary, as is done by mosquito control agencies . what species are hatched and what diseases they can carry
Right now, says Ostendt, ticking is driven by the interests of academics. "It's a mosaic," he says. "You tend to find ticks in the study sites of people looking for them, but that leaves huge parts of the country completely unchecked."
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Ben Beard, a medical entomologist who is deputy director of the division of vector-transmitted diseases ("vector" insects that transmit diseases when they bite "), says it is beginning to change. "We have funded state health agencies to start ticking efforts," he said.
The main source is a CDC program called "Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Funding," which sends about $ 200 million a year to all 50 state health agencies. ; $ 16 million of this applies to all insect-borne diseases. Until recently, funds have been tied to specific projects, but this year the CDC has agreed to allow states to have more freedom in the way they spend money. The result will be a map, by country and eventually by district, of the ticks and pathogens they carry, which the CDC plans to publish once a year.
Beard said it is not possible to say at this stage how many jurisdictions will choose to concentrate on ticks or how much of these 16 million will be spent on tracking them. So the picture of the observation is likely to be flawed, but "over time it has to turn the patch into something more systematic and fuller." (The CDC also funds five "centers of excellence" at universities to increase work on insect-borne diseases, including ticks.)
This is the beginning – however, given the speed at which they emerge ticks and tick diseases are increasing, it seems likely to be inadequate. Investments in biology and ecology of ticks are needed, as well as studies on how ticks arrive in new territory and what brings them around them.
CDC data, limited in this sense, show that ticks are ahead of us. In the past we have tried to catch up.
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