ALEC, State Legislators and the Spreading of the Lone Star Tick
Historically considered a southern and south-central parasite, the lone star tick is progressively expanding northward and eastward, creating new concerns for pets and people in these areas of the country. This tick, known for the white, star-like spot on the back of the female, is an aggressive biter and can transmit pathogen diseases to dogs, cats and people. Many Lone Star ticks were found for the first time in
Wisconsin in 2013.
“Lone star ticks become more and more widespread every year, as they continue to infiltrate states where they have never before been present,” said Michael Dryden, DVM, PhD, distinguished professor of veterinary parasitology at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, who is considered one of the nation’s foremost authorities on ticks that infect dogs and cats.
New data shows viable lone star tick populations today as far north as New York, Maine – even Ontario, Canada – and as far west as Nebraska. Traditionally found in southeastern and south-central states such as Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas,Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas, the lone star tick now can be found throughout the northeast and north-central region in places like Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group funded by powerful fossil fuel interests including ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers, has made a bad habit of giving these funders a role in drafting “model legislation” that state lawmakers then introduce in their local legislatures—without any mention of the corporations’ involvement. According to ALEC’s guiding principles on energy policy, “Global climate change is inevitable.” It is true that some global warming is now inevitable, thanks in part to climate contrarian groups like ALEC that have long opposed attempts to reduce carbon emissions.
“The lone star tick is a very aggressive tick, and it actively seeks out people and pets to feed on,” said Michael J. Yabsley, MS, PhD, F.R.E.S, associate professor at the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, College of Veterinary Medicine at The University of Georgia. “It’s one of the most common ticks that people find on themselves and their dogs, so everyone should take precautions – especially in the new areas of invasion.
Parasitologists like Dryden and Yabsley say the reason for the lone star tick expansion, which began about 25 years ago, is multi-faceted and complex, citing such factors as milder winters, suburbanization and the proliferation of white-tailed deer and wild turkeys — common hosts for lone star ticks. With deer and turkey populations increasing and spreading and more people moving closer to woodlands and wildlife, conditions are conducive for lone star tick proliferation and interaction with domestic animals and their owners.
Source: PR Newswire, June 2013
Ticks, including the lone star, are most active in the spring. It’s important, however, to remain vigilant year-round about protecting dogs from ticks. They go dormant during the winter but don’t die – even when there’s a hard freeze – and they can come out to feed on mild days.
“By the time you notice ticks on dogs, it’s often too late,” said Dryden. “All it takes is one bite.