Tick Population Explosion Adds to Rise of Lyme and Other Diseases

If your last hike in the woods ended with a tick trying to make a meal of you, you’re not alone: The tiny bloodsuckers have been ruining people’s summers for at least 5,000 years, and they’re enjoying a new golden age. By one measure, deer ticks have expanded their range in the U.S. by 50% since 1996; today they and their bloodsucking brethren are found in all 50 states.

With ticks come tick-borne illnesses. Lyme disease is the most well-known. It can be very serious if left untreated, causing neurological and other damage — and it’s dramatically on the rise. The number of reported cases has soared since the U.S. started keeping track in the early 1980s, to about 30,000 annually, but scientists believe the actual incidence is at least 10 times higher.

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