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July 1, 2019 10:00 AM   Subscribe

The terrifying unknowns of an exotic invasive tick. Last summer, in a town just outside New York City, a tick bit a man. This ought to sound unexceptional.

Until recently, the Asian longhorned tick’s home range was understood to be eastern China and Russia, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, and a few Pacific islands. In those countries, it harbors an array of bacterial and viral diseases that infect humans, including a potentially deadly hemorrhagic fever. It’s even more feared for the way it attacks livestock. This tick reproduces asexually, laying thousands of eggs at a time and producing waves of offspring that extract so much blood that grown cattle grow weak and calves die.

Further horrible tick reading at TICKPOCALYPSE: The Public Health Crisis Hiding In Plain Sight

posted by poffin boffin (59 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
Thanks for this - never going outside again.

What she didn’t realize, until horrified employees told her, was that she had ticks on herself as well, more than 1,000 speck-sized larvae all over her clothing.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 10:11 AM on July 1 [15 favorites]


Trigger warning for that second link that has ANIMATED TICKS crawling on the screen yargh.

I didn't seen any mention of the Lone Star tick that causes meat allergies though it might have been buried under a horrifying animation so.
posted by emjaybee at 10:11 AM on July 1 [7 favorites]


outside New York City

already freakin' shaking; extremely upset by this
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:12 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]


oh they ARE animated ok. wasn't sure if it was just my demon eyes or not.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:15 AM on July 1 [5 favorites]


outside NYC

Yeah they’re still too chicken shit to come INSIDE NYC.
posted by spitbull at 10:56 AM on July 1 [13 favorites]


$5 says they're already in the boroughs - what would stop them?

Ticks are either proof that there is no god or that god is horrid, I don't really see any way out of this theological binary.
posted by aspersioncast at 11:02 AM on July 1 [13 favorites]


Gaia is trying to rid herself of those troublesome apes.
posted by Bee'sWing at 11:07 AM on July 1 [6 favorites]


I don't really see any way out of this theological binary

The possibility arises that god is a tick.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:09 AM on July 1 [55 favorites]


wait i just had an epiphany about transubstantiation
posted by poffin boffin at 11:10 AM on July 1 [47 favorites]


Unsettlingly, they also found ticks where existing science says ticks shouldn’t be: resting in full sun in the middle of a well-tended lawn, instead of in shaggy, shady tall grass.

Well that is absolutely terrifying. Um, what are the other states where this tick has been found? I didn't see a list.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 11:38 AM on July 1 [2 favorites]


Ticks are either proof that there is no god or that god is horrid, I don't really see any way out of this theological binary.

ticks are here to lead you toward important questions regarding the matter of theodicy. the tick does this service for you even though you despise it.
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:40 AM on July 1 [10 favorites]


AAAAAAAAGGHHH

I have an outdoor obligation for the next four weeks and, despite the 90°F+ temperatures and 80% humidity, I have been wearing what my friends affectionately deride as "the full beekeeper" because of my absolute horror of the ticks, the fucking ticks. Over the past few years, I have watched friends and acquaintances get diagnosed with debilitating Lyme Disease after picking up a tick on a hike, clearing some brush, or just sitting on a damn park bench or petting their dog. The description of the woman walking around unknowingly with thousands of ticks and tick larvae all over her is giving me the screaming meemies.

I hate climate change.
posted by ourobouros at 11:42 AM on July 1 [9 favorites]




Moar possums
posted by fluttering hellfire at 11:47 AM on July 1 [34 favorites]


Hm, what do we have he...

In August 2017, a woman who kept a single sheep on a property in the northwest corner of New Jersey, in the midst of a neighborhood of big houses and big lawns, walked into the Hunterdon County health department to complain that she had found ticks on the animal. What she didn’t realize, until horrified employees told her, was that she had ticks on herself as well, more than 1,000 speck-sized larvae all over her clothing.

*quietly closes the browser, lights computer on fire*
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:06 PM on July 1 [21 favorites]


For those who have read the article (I clicked and quickly closed it because I felt like screaming): is there a reason we can't just have NexGard for humans?

Both of my dogs were coming in from the yard with 1-2 ticks on each of them, each outing, and then I got them caught up with their flea/tick meds and there are no more ticks coming in on their coats. It seems fairly simple to treat any mammal this way--why not humans?
posted by witchen at 12:07 PM on July 1 [5 favorites]


*quietly closes the browser, lights computer on fire*

Wait until you hear about the newly discovered burning-PC house tick...
posted by maxwelton at 12:09 PM on July 1 [5 favorites]


they also found ticks where existing science says ticks shouldn’t be: resting in full sun in the middle of a well-tended lawn, instead of in shaggy, shady tall grass.

Great. And here I am thinking that knocking out Japanese Barberry would be our salvation.
posted by BWA at 12:19 PM on July 1


Living in rural Tennessee where deer ticks and lonestars are ever more prevalent I've come to the opinion that everyone really should have a tick key with their keys.
posted by auggy at 12:34 PM on July 1 [15 favorites]


It seems fairly simple to treat any mammal this way--why not humans

NexGard isn’t safe for every dog, let alone every mammal. (According to the FDA.) I wouldn’t want to fuck up my own nervous system even if it also kills ticks.
posted by Monochrome at 12:35 PM on July 1


Here's a habitat suitability map for this critter. Per Wikipedia, "It is believed to migrate by parasitizing birds, which carry it to new areas." So if you're in a suitable habitat, a little bird will deliver this tick pretty soon.
posted by beagle at 1:25 PM on July 1 [5 favorites]


here is the latest on this phenomenon
posted by lalochezia at 1:35 PM on July 1


As someone who dealt with Lyme disease through his teens, fuck ticks.
posted by mrzarquon at 2:09 PM on July 1 [3 favorites]


Here's a habitat suitability map for this critter.

Add another few years of warming and that range will be the entire continental US minus the southwest.
posted by Rust Moranis at 2:14 PM on July 1


Well this is terrible. But if the tick did not make this man sick, how did the scientists find out about it (and then know to come check his home?) Maybe a doctor pulled it off him? I am stuck on this detail, which is better than thinking about the ticks more.
posted by Glinn at 2:18 PM on July 1


But if the tick did not make this man sick, how did the scientists find out about it (and then know to come check his home?) Maybe a doctor pulled it off him? I am stuck on this detail, which is better than thinking about the ticks more.

This article explains it:

According to the new report, a 66-year-old man from Yonkers, New York, removed a tick from his leg in June 2018. He had not traveled outside his home county for the past 30 days, and his only outdoor exposure was his lawn and one other lawn in the same area. His doctor prescribed him a single 200-milligram dose of doxycycline, presuming that the tick was Ixodes scapularis, the most common US Lyme vector.

Later that day, the patient took the tick to the Lyme Disease Diagnostic Center in Westchester, New York. He didn't have any symptoms at the time and didn't get sick over the next 3 months.


It's overwhelmingly likely that this was not, as the first posted article suggests, "the first time" this tick has bitten a human in America. It's just the first time this tick bit a human who then thought to take it to a bunch of tick scientists for identification.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:28 PM on July 1 [8 favorites]


Wait, so you can catch malaria in the US? I can't remember much mention of that in the travel guides.
posted by biffa at 2:40 PM on July 1


Ticks are just nature's popcorn. Get involved.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:34 PM on July 1


There are signs about ticks in Prospect Park.

I think I may have pet my last dog.

Is California still safe? I know it’s, like...on fire, generally, but that is actually preferable to fucking ticks.
posted by schadenfrau at 3:57 PM on July 1 [1 favorite]


let me tell you a funny story about a regional park in California, a hiking date, and about 30,000 ticks
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:01 PM on July 1 [7 favorites]


granted they were boring old regular ticks but we'll get your hip new east coast ticks in a few years, like we always do
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:02 PM on July 1 [3 favorites]


I’m sorry, nature, it’s just not working out. It’s definitely you.
posted by schadenfrau at 4:13 PM on July 1 [4 favorites]


Nuke them from orbit!

Until we do, I’ll be shopping for a burqa, or maybe a suit of armor or a space suit.
posted by Anne Neville at 4:28 PM on July 1 [1 favorite]


There are ticks in my area. I live rurally. I run trails in the woods.

After I run, I look for ticks. I have twice found ticks. They can be removed. Follow removal advice to ensure proper release.

This is not hard.

A tick has to stick on you for quite a while to transmit disease. A day, at least, maybe two. If you go on a walk in the woods, and find a tick that has attached itself to you, remove it. You are not infected with Lyme.

Inspect your children.

The tricky thing is animals. I have many animals. I check them for ticks. Once, I found one. It was not yet engorged. It was safely removed. The animal was fine, if annoyed because I made her stay still while dealing with the tick.

If you have animals, be vigilant on their behalf.

Lyme sucks. If you find a tick attached to you and honestly don’t know if it’s been there for hours or days, seek medical treatment immediately. They will give you antibiotics. You will get better in days or weeks.

If you have all the symptoms of untreated Lyme, and have had exposure risk to ticks, you may have untreated Lyme. Seek medical treatment immediately. You will likely get most of the way better within months or a couple of years.

In all other circumstances, unclench and try to enjoy nature.
posted by Construction Concern at 4:58 PM on July 1 [15 favorites]


Lyme disease is the least of it. I live in Sydney’s northern beaches, which is the meat allergy capital of the world. What, you mean you’ve never heard of a meat allergy? Guess how you get it - through ticks. Which are EVERYWHERE here. Doctors have gone from never having heard of this to having hundreds of cases in the past five or ten years.

One of my son’s friends is the first known child to contract this. He has literally gone into anaphylactic shock from walking past a Bunnings sausage sizzle and breathing in the smell. This is a person who will never be able to eat red meat again and is now severely anaemic. He’s seven and got bitten playing in his backyard. I have heard lots of stories like this now. Ticks terrify me.
posted by Jubey at 5:12 PM on July 1 [10 favorites]


A possum in every home.
posted by schadenfrau at 5:15 PM on July 1 [11 favorites]


Moar possums

This bears repeating. I'd seen the cute FB meme saying that possums eat approximately 5000 rocks per year. Turns out it's true! Now I have to find out how/where to get possums.

I was doing yard work a couple of weeks ago, clearing invasive vines that were choking a bunch of trees. In one day I found 7 ticks on me (none had yet bitten me, luckily). So yeah, fuck climate change.
posted by karst at 5:17 PM on July 1


My sister-in-law has the meat allergy. In the US, it’s from lone star ticks. She has learned to like emu.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:02 PM on July 1 [1 favorite]


Here’s who else eats ticks: guinea hens. Plus they’re extremely cute.
posted by mmiddle at 6:27 PM on July 1 [3 favorites]


Every time this comes up someone remarks that in fact songbirds eat even more ticks than possums do (also this is American possums, not the fancy Aussie ones).

And every time I picture a Medieval illustration of a couple possums towing a wagon covered in birds through a field, and am thus rendered happier than I was when I was just thinking about parasites.
posted by aspersioncast at 6:36 PM on July 1 [1 favorite]


Hunterdon County????

That's way too close to home. Let's see what the Hunterdon County Department of Health has to say... A video titled "East Asian Tick not a treat [sic] to people, fears unfounded". Oh, okay.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:11 PM on July 1 [1 favorite]


wait i just had an epiphany about transubstantiation

this is my blood meal, poured out for you

As someone who will be spending a great deal of time this month outdoors in Massachusetts, especially Martha's Vineyard, let's just say that planning my daily itineraries has been a very itchy process. I'm trusting in chemicals to pull me through, but between ticks and sharks, the temptation to seal myself inside a human-sized hamsterball and just roll around the Cape is extreme.
posted by notquitemaryann at 7:46 PM on July 1 [3 favorites]


Well I guess I didn't really need to go outside again anyway
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:57 PM on July 1 [2 favorites]


inside good outside bad
posted by poffin boffin at 9:09 PM on July 1 [1 favorite]


I thought the leeches from last week's jungle were bad. Thank you metafilter.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 12:12 AM on July 2


wait, you can get Lyme disease from being bitten by ticks as a kid? and still have it? It doesn't like burn out?
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 12:14 AM on July 2


I've had Lyme a couple of times, and the second time it wasn't cured completely, so it reappeared mid-winter. The doctor at first thought it was a rare and deadly form of cancer. I hate ticks.
posted by mumimor at 1:14 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]


Chronic Lyme is a hotly disputed thing inside medical circles. It’s been hard to definitely diagnose its presence and you can also be suffering from other tick borne illnesses as well (I tested positive for babesia along with Lyme).

At one point the idea was “six weeks of doxycycline and you’re cured” - which is what I was given when I tested positive at 12. No further tests were done to make sure I didn’t haven’t it after. Wasn’t until I was 16 and having more than puberty fatigue / aches and pains that another doctor did a full series of tests and found both Babesia and Lyme.

It’s also vague enough to collect its own following Woo practitioners and I’m welcoming more rigorous research in the field.
posted by mrzarquon at 3:59 AM on July 2 [10 favorites]


What kind of person designs a web page like that Medium.com TICKPOCALPYSE page?

I kinda hate that website for that kind of shit.
posted by glonous keming at 4:52 AM on July 2 [4 favorites]


I live in MA and hiking/gardening are what I love to do in this goddamn life. If you want to know my feelings about ticks I can condense them down to one inhuman scream emanating from a flame thrower.

(I have yet to find one attached on me, though I've found many on the kids at pickup from daycare, possibly because I focus all of my ample anxiety on tick prevention. My therapist approves.)
posted by lydhre at 5:46 AM on July 2


wait, you can get Lyme disease from being bitten by ticks as a kid? and still have it? It doesn't like burn out?

So there's "chronic lyme disease" which is not broadly accepted by the medical establishment (but hey, neither was fibromyalgia so who knows), and then there's "post-treatment lyme disease syndrome" which is broadly accepted as a thing now, but is not well-understood. All the research I can find on it is from the past decade, with most more recent than that.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:09 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]


It’s also vague enough to collect its own following Woo practitioners and I’m welcoming more rigorous research in the field.

Yeah I first came across this concept in the early 2010s when I met a woman who said she had chronic lyme. I googled it and was like "well this looks like a bunch of woo but whatever." Then over the next several years I started hearing more and more about post-treatment lyme disease syndrome, from more and more reputable sources. The suspected mechanism is different (an immune system response rather than a lingering infection is the current leading theory), but the cause and effect - tick bite followed by years of chronic symptoms - is the same.

"Alternative medicine" can do a lot of damage, but stuff like this is why I can't ever write it off completely. This woman knew something was wrong with her, and in the time between when she got a "woo" diagnosis and when that diagnosis, or something very similar, was accepted as a legitimate possibility by the medical community, she didn't have any other treatment options. And it was people like her, and their alternative medicine practitioners, who made enough noise to ensure that this was investigated as a possibility at all.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:18 AM on July 2 [4 favorites]


That's way too close to home. (I live in Yonkers)
posted by sciencegeek at 8:23 AM on July 2


But... the cdc site says:

As of June 24, 2019, no harmful germs that can infect people have been found in the ticks collected in the United States. Research is ongoing.

So, it would be gross to be covered in ticks, but doesn’t seem like it would actually harm you. What am I missing?
posted by rainydayfilms at 10:52 AM on July 3 [1 favorite]


So, it would be gross to be covered in ticks, but doesn’t seem like it would actually harm you. What am I missing?

In its native environment this tick does carry and transmit several really bad diseases, and just because they haven't found any in the US yet with those diseases doesn't mean it's nothing to worry about. There could be disease vector ticks here already that haven't been found yet, or if there aren't, one of them could still pick something up and begin spreading it around.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:05 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


Also, tick bites itch like crazy. I can say from multiple unfortunate experiences, being covered in tick bites is miserable, even if you don't get a tick-borne disease. And while it takes a full meal for most diseases to be transmitted, the itching comes from the saliva at the beginning of the bite.
posted by hydropsyche at 2:37 PM on July 3


So, it would be gross to be covered in ticks, but doesn’t seem like it would actually harm you. What am I missing?


Please pardon me for reprising part of a previous comment:

Ticks can do far, far worse things to you than give you Lyme disease:
Tick paralysis results from inoculation of a toxin from tick salivary glands during a blood meal. The toxin causes symptoms within 2–7 days, beginning with weakness in both legs that progresses to paralysis. The paralysis ascends to the trunk, arms, and head within hours and may lead to respiratory failure and death. The disease can present as acute ataxia without muscle weakness.
Patients may report minor sensory symptoms, but constitutional signs are usually absent. Deep tendon reflexes are usually hypoactive or absent, and ophthalmoplegia and bulbar palsy can occur.
It's fairly easy to see how this might have been selected for:
Tick paralysis occurs when an engorged and gravid (egg-laden) female tick produces a neurotoxin in its salivary glands and transmits it to its host during feeding. Experiments have indicated that the greatest amount of toxin is produced between the fifth and seventh day of attachment (often initiating or increasing the severity of symptoms), although the timing may vary depending on the species of tick.
I leave to your imagination what might happen to an animal which goes into hibernation with a gravid female attached.

posted by jamjam at 3:54 PM on July 3 [2 favorites]


I live in Maine, Lyme is endemic to the deer tick population. My dog brings in ticks, they climb over to me, thanks, pal. By far, most of the ticks I find are dog ticks. Gross but seldom a health issue. Soaking the dog's collar in permethrin has helped a lot. I have permethrin-sprayed clothes for yard work. I also spray with DEET because the mosquitoes are very bad this year due to a cool spring. Somebody on mefi described a tick removal technique where you put a paper towel over the tick, and rub it in circles, the tick gets confused and pulls out (insert your own joke here). It works pretty well. I keep a spoon on the bedside table for tick execution, sometimes they would escape before got them to the kitchen to kill them. I can't squish them with my fingernails, have to use a tool.

I know many people who have had Lyme and been treated successfully. Go outdoors. Take precautions, but also have perspective. Better to get exercise and sunshine, and pet dogs. I have a poorly diagnosed chronic illness and live in the woods, so I get tested and it's always been negative.

No way am I clicking to a site with animated ticks.
posted by theora55 at 10:15 AM on July 5 [3 favorites]


Just coming back to say, here's some really good info on ticks, their life cycles, and how they find you. One common misconception is that ticks wait for a warm body to pass by and then "jump" on board. They don't. But they do wait for a body to brush the leaf or twig they're sitting on, and can get onto that skin or fur PDQ. Still, you're much more likely to get ticks on you if you are standing still among vegetation. So, when gardening, watch out. When walking briskly, the odds (for the tick) are much worse.
posted by beagle at 11:16 AM on July 6


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