Recent studies have show that Lyme disease — a tick-borne illness with debilitating consequences — is on the rise. If left untreated, this disease can cause arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling. For children under 18, it may severely impair cognitive function. However, far from getting closer to eradicating this disease, it is growing more and more prevalent.
As global warming causes warm temperatures to extend deeper into the year, the season in which ticks are most likely to latch to a host is being extended. Ticks are now able to thrive in environments where they previously would have frozen to death. This is disastrous for Maine, particularly in areas along the coast. Here, Lyme disease has reached over 1,000 cases per year since 2011, with a spike to almost 1,800 cases in the year 2017.
There are ways that you can avoid picking up ticks; avoiding long grass, and staying in the center of the trail, to name a few. You can also use DEET-based repellents. However, these repellents are harmful to creatures such as cats, bees, fish and aquatic insects.
In the end, there is only one way that we may truly combat Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses: by combating global warming. While there are small things we each can do in our own lives to combat global warming, the most effective way is by voting for leaders who will enact legislation that will mitigate its effects. If we allow those we elect to protect us to continue to pass legislation that is harmful to our planet, diseases like Lyme disease will only become more and more prevalent in our communities.