Both mysterious – What’s going on? The flu virus moves around–now Lyme disease is doing the same. And humans aren’t the only ones in trouble: Small dots are appearing without explanation on plants in Tennessee that seem to “burn” through the leaves, and farmers there are afraid they’ll lose their entire crops. This strange disease is killing trees, tough weeds and even birds!
On the Channel 3 News website in Memphis, Shaun Chaiyabhat quotes organic farmer Tim Holt as saying, “We found it all in the herbs, in the flowers, in the plum tree, in the weeds. It’s apparently in everything. There are two dead birds hanging out of two different bird houses, so we’re concerned about that. We don’t know if it’s related, but it’s alarming.” It can’t be insects, because farmers who spray pesticides are having the same problem.
Meanwhile, climate change is causing the deer ticks that cause it to stay alive in areas that used to be too cold for them to survive. The North American epidemic of Lyme disease began in the upper Midwest of the US in the late 1970s. Now conditions that can support the establishment of Lyme disease have come together in southern Quebec, an area that until now has not sustained the disease, which is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, that is carried by the deer tick. A complex life cycle involving the tick, the bacterium, rodents, and the adult tick’s preferred food source (the white-tailed deer) must be established before the disease can become self-perpetuating in a new environment, and in southern Quebec, a warmer climate has helped the ticks to become established.
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