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» LymeNet Flash » Questions and Discussion » General Support » Do More Deer Now Mean More Lyme?

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Author Topic: Do More Deer Now Mean More Lyme?
Leelee
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Last night while suffering through another bout with insomnia I started thinking about this:

Are there more people bitten by ticks now than say 10 or 20 years ago since the deer population is so much larger and they are present in suburban neighborhoods and even, in some cases, cities?

Also, are more deer infected with Lyme these days?

I guess my last question, then, is this: should there be more effective programs to manage the deer population and thus hopefully reduce tick exposure to humans?

I am at the point where seeing deer make me panic. Since I live in the country we are infested with them and they even walk right up next to my front windows.

If anyone would like to share their comments and thoughts, that would be wonderful. As I said, it was a long, sleepless night and these thoughts just kept playing over and over again in my mind. [shake]

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Geneal
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Deer aren't vectors of Lyme disease.

Deer ticks are one of the four types of ticks that can be a carrier of Lyme.

Killing deer won't get rid of the disease.

You have to kill the ticks.

I find deer ticks on my dogs all the time.

Hugs,

Geneal

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Keebler
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-

Mice, birds - nearly any critter can transport ticks.

As for the animals that transmit lyme, if we could help them be less stressed in their environment, that might be helpful but, ultimately it is a huge task to stop the infection connections.


I hope you can still take joy in seeing a deer. They are still marvelous creatures and not all carry ticks (and those who do, well, it's not their fault).

We have moved into their neighborhoods as much as they graze in ours.

I can see that, perhaps, this situation might make for a very rewarding career - managing wildlife and neighborhoods; minimizing the spread of disease.


I think there can be many ways to approach this. Too bad the frequency emitted from cell phone towers is not one that will kill ticks and only ticks, eh?


-

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Leelee
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Thank you Geneal and Keebler for your thoughts. In my short time on this forum I have become aware of how thoughtful and well-informed both of you are.

I appreciate your thoughts and guidance as I navigate my way through this confusing chapter of my life.

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The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Martin Luther King,Jr

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Geneal
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We have deer all over where I live too.

I love them.

I just don't go walking in the woods anymore.

However, I am still outside as much as I can be.

My dogs have a tendency to run to the river behind my house

Through very tall grass and it is very woodsy.

We don't have any trees around our new house.

(Made sure since Katrina/trees destroyed our last house).

I refuse to live my life in fear of ticks.

I don't like the little boogers, but I never did.

I have always hated the way they move.

Try to enjoy as best as you can.

Trust me, we have all had the same thoughts as you.

Hugs,

Geneal

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lymeric
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http://www.thebostonchannel.com/chronicle/17899134/detail.html


According to this show (chronic lyme friendly) so far apparently
the definitive television production on Lyme disease,

the only way to lower the occurrence of Lyme & Co in an area with high incidence is by the eradication of the deer herd.

It was reported that good-meaning environmentalists in the
early 1900's forced the reintroduction of deer against the
advice of biologists,

who warned that this action might cause outbreaks of environmental diseases.


Similar types in the 60's & 70's caused restrictive air quality
controls leading to the abandoning of burn off as annual field
maintenance.

This practice was considered to play a huge role in
tick control.


http://flash.lymenet.org/ubb/ultimatebb.php/topic/3/21602#000004


The bottom line - according to the show - no deer, no place for
the deer tick to reproduce.

Almost all deer tick reproduction takes place on deer.

Eliminate the deer and most deer ticks never get a chance to reproduce.

There is more info on this available online.

[ 03-08-2009, 01:21 AM: Message edited by: lymeric ]

Posts: 76 | From tolland county, ct | Registered: Jul 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
lostgurl
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The thing about that is- with more and more

'developments' as far as suburbs and land

clearing go, there are less 'critters' other than

our pets and deer to carry these ticks. They are

more prevalent also because the smaller rodents

who used to consume the ticks are not around.

Kind of like the movie Over the Hedge where the

little creatures get pushed out further and

further.

. Not only ticks, but fleas and mosquitoes, horse

flies, and BB has even been found in DUST-

eradication of the deer would only mean that the

ticks would be looking for more places to feed,

aka US and our pets... I don't think it's a good

thing at ALL.. Just my opinion.. It is a gloomy

outlook in Lyme land for everyone no matter where

they are

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MADDOG
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It is not the deer!!!

It is the mice ,get rid of the mice you stop the tick cycle.

I leave out in my barn nasty green slabs of mouse and rat poison from the farm store.

There were thousands of ticks here, now there are ZERO!!!!

And I shot the infected rabbits they were so sick they had scratched off almost all of their hair.

Bald rabbits with 60 or so ticks attached to their ears, A sick terrible situation!!

I cleaned it up,now i have healthy animals including a badger in my woods,and pileated woodpeckers.

Stop the cycle poison the mice!!!!

MADDOG

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Zebco 33
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Keebler~ Love your idea of killing ticks with the cell phone tower frequency emmisions. You must watch the same sci-fi flicks I do. You made me smile. I needed that. Thanks, Connie
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Leelee
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Hi MADDOG,

You are a much stronger person than me! If I had seen so many ticks in one place I would keeled over and never recovered.

Good for you for finding a solution to the ticks!

I honestly haven't seen any mice here and we live in the country, but we don't have a barn so maybe they live in places I don't know about. We do have rabbits, though, all over the place.

The thing about the deer, besides the ticks, is that they jump in front of people's cars and cause accidents and they eat up my landscaping. [Mad]

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The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Martin Luther King,Jr

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nenet
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I think it is a combination of factors.

The one that seems to have had a greater impact on people getting sicker from Lyme more frequently could be the recent mutation of several strains of Lyme into new and far more virulent forms:

Discovery of new Lyme strains invalidates current tests

http://underourskin.com/blog/?p=127

Also, there are other proven carriers and vectors of Lyme disease than ticks. Fleas, even mosquitoes, have been shown to cause Lyme. If anyone is interested I can try to find a good link for that info. I think it was Melanie Reber's site that does such a great job of gathering vector info.


I think deer are a very small part of the problem. Even in cities you have mice, rats, pigeons, migratory birds, etc., that carry infected ticks, and there have even been infected ticks gathered in NYC's Central Park, IIRC.

The Plum Island theory is that migratory birds landed in the open air animal testing pens on the island where tick borne diseases were being researched. Plum Island is directly on the major migratory flight path for that area, which passes over Old Lyme Connecticut and surrounding areas.

Deer became and remain overpopulated due to the the destruction of their natural predators. Then they were reintroduced into environments that soon would no longer be able to provide wild sanctuary and resources/food, and they spread out into human areas of vegetation: industrial farming and suburban sprawl, golf courses etc.

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lymeric
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The mice were always here, and plentiful. (On this CT farm and surrounding area for the last couple o' centuries.)

But no one got lyme until the deer came back.* So far, studies have shown that eliminating the deer herd is the only way to lower lyme incidence as I posted above.

There's a pretty good biological case for this, But hey, studies can be wrong. (As we know!)


The communities that have aggressively pursued this option in the areas of highest lyme incidence in the US currently have fewer cases than those in their region who didn't. There is strong science to back this up.

It is also more than intuitive to suspect that the animal most out of balance within an eco system would play a role in endemic disease.

That's why foxes, raccoons, and skunks have such a problem with rabies.


It makes a great deal more sense (to me) to shoot a deer and feed the world, than poison ourselves. **

How healthy can the animals who ate the poisoned mice be? Always remember: You poison your environment, you poison your well (ness.)


I didn't reach this position easily; because we loved the deer we didn't let the hunters in. Until my 3rd case of lyme...

The first deer harvested had 2000 ticks that we could count, engorged. (About 100 feet from my house.) Who knows how many in the fur unseen.

This level of tick infestation is never observed when the deer are in balance with their environment.


All that being said, it's a good idea to get rid of the mice. Eradicating mice and deer are not mutually exclusive.

Each action helps protect you and your home. But killing a few mice around your house and barn isn't going to really effect the multi thousands living in nearby fields and woods within the deers range.


Certain studies also point to increased animal species biodiversity as playing a role in lyme control.

That is, the more animals that aren't mice for ticks to feed on, the fewer ticks will carry lyme.

So, some deer may be good. One study showed ticks that fell off deer had one of the lowest rates of lyme (about 15%)

Luckily, with US forest land at recent high (750+/- million acres vs. 725+/- million acres in the early 1900's) there is no shortage of little critters to go around. (Especially because these same largely go uneaten by humans for the first time in history.)

The problem is that much of this forest is considered "backyard forest" with plenty of deer , but no deer predators.

So, responsible eco-management - which poisoning is not - requires humans to fill the predatory void.


Deer aren't dumb. Do you think they'd sit there and graze in front of a wolf's den?

Our houses, at this point have to represent the predator's den.

Shoot some deer around your house and the others quickly learn to graze elsewhere.

This doesn't mean you won't have deer. Just that they have a way of finding places to hang where they won't get shot at.

If that happens to be your backyard, they'll pick up on this.


* Yes I know people may have been sick with lyme all along and didn't know it.

** Yes, I'm aware of "mad deer disease."

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Leelee
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Hi nenet and lymeric,

Very insightful points of view you both have. I am appreciative of your response as I enjoy the outdoors, my home and a "live and let live" philosophy when it comes to wildlife.

My position has been changing, though, and you both made excellent points.

I live in the country so we have them all....deer, fox, coyotes, bears, etc., but the point made that there are no natural predators for deer is a good one. I sort of thought the coyotes might scare the deer off, but it doesn't look like that's happening here.

Some people out here hire people (it's legal in a certain season and a certain distance from a home) to come on their property and shoot the deer.

Lymeric, I agree with you that the deer are out of balance in our eco-system. I have read they breed exponentially and the more there are, the more they breed.

I understand now from reading everyone's replies that there are many vectors besides the deer, but where I live, I suspect the deer to be the main carrier of ticks. Just a thought.

We, as humans, are smarter than the deer (I hope!) and as a society we contribute more than deer. I think we need to drastically reduce the deer population. I don't want to eradicate the species, but I do want the advantage over them.

Leelee

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The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Martin Luther King,Jr

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shazdancer
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Yes, the increase of deer play a large part in the increase of Lyme disease, though there are other factors. Ticks feed on mice and other small mammals, but in the adult stage, they prefer to feed on deer before reproducing. Deer also roam more than small mammals, spreading infected ticks faster.

On Monhegan Island, Maine, they removed all the deer, and the infection rate in people went from about 13% of the year-round residents to zero. The tick population also plummeted.

Here are a few references:
http://delicious.com/lymebrarian/deer

http://www.ct.gov/caes/lib/caes/documents/publications/bulletins/b1010.pdf
(large PDF file)

Hope that helps,

Sharon

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Leelee
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shazdancer,

I read all the information in the links you posted. Thank you!

We have tried spraying stuff on our shrubs and plants to deter the deer, but honestly, they just won't go away.

It's become a war....us against them and they are winning.

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The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Martin Luther King,Jr

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Starfall1969
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Yeah, I know that deer aren't the only or even the main problem when talking about Lyme, but I can understand your point of view.

I grew up with Bambi being my all-time favorite movie, but that was before I started having run-ins with deer.

You know, with the car.

I'm already skittish where they're concerned, and we live in an area where there are deer literally everywhere.

And it's not just at dawn and dusk; I have almost hit a small gerd as they dashed out in front of my van at 12:30pm!!!!

So not only am I skittish while driving; now I'm also freaking about the possibility that they're carrying infeted ticks.

We havea back lot that gets overgrown with weeds, and there are several deer paths back there.

And every time it snows, we go out in the morning and see deer tracks coming right up to all our windows--what the heck, do they come and peek in our windows at night?

I imagine them just depositing their stupid ticks right by the house where they can jump on us when we come out.

Paranoid, I know, but that's how I think sometimes now.

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Leelee
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Starfall1969,

I sympathize with you completely!

And as for them looking in your windows at night, well, I suspect they are scoping out what they want to munch on inside your living room. [Wink]

A deer ran right through a neighbor's front window in the middle of the day. The ironic thing was the husband was out hunting deer that very day. His wife was home at the time.

I'm paranoid too. I can't imagine why I ever thought it would be a dream come true to live out in the country. [bonk]

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The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Martin Luther King,Jr

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tcw
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Deer are probably important for at least two reasons - they are the largest mammal found in close proximity to people, and they cover a large amount of territory across various terrain. Deer are probably the primary way that Lyme spreads from area to area, but it seems that in the NE the white footed mouse may be the most infected animal.

Other than in isolated areas like islands, controlling deer populations may drop the infection rate some, but not eradicate it. Population control is a ongoing problem also - keeping deer out of a suburban or rural area is like trying to rid a city of rats - a lot of ongoing effort, and a job that probably would never be finished.

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lymeric
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Here's some more about the deer connection. Unfortunately, the rest of this Boston Globe article is behind a pay wall.

"The most intense concentration of Lyme disease ever documented has been found in a neighborhood near a Massachusetts nature preserve that was overrun with tick-infested deer, specialists report.

Researchers say their work shows how rapidly the disease can spread once it arrives in a community that has lots of deer.

Lyme disease is characterized at first by a skin rash, headache or fever and later by arthritis and heart damage.

"The message is that it can be terribly explosive," said Dr. Andrew Spielman of the Harvard School of Public Health, a co-author of the report."

Mice have been traditionally considered a primary reservoir for lyme disease. If they get in your wall, the ticks can drop off and lay eggs in your house and walls. Google role of mice in lyme disease for more info.

Posts: 76 | From tolland county, ct | Registered: Jul 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Leelee
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OMG, lymeric! That's beyond scary!

Mice in walls is bad enough, but ticks and tick eggs left behind by them is horrifying.

I mentioned earlier I haven't seen any mice around here, fortunately, but that's about the only thing wild creature I haven't seen.

Fortunately we have four indoor cats so maybe that keeps the mice away. I do treat the cats every month with flea and tick medicine just in case. I know our dogs bring the creepy ticks in the house with them.

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The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Martin Luther King,Jr

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lymeric
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70% of lyme cases occurred in houses with a dog or cat. (This statistic was current some years ago.) Be careful!
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lymeloco
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http://www.upenn.edu/pennnews/article.php?id=1270
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Starfall1969
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Lol, I thought about you and this post last night.

We had just gotten home from my first LLMD appointment and had supper.

It was starting to get dark, and my 2 year old was sitting at the front window and starts shouting, "Deer! Deer!"

We went to the window, and sure enough, there's a whole stinking herd inthe front yard heading out to the back yard.

We counted 10 in all. They ate some grass out front, then ran out to the back yard and ate some grass and ran around before heading back through the path they have through our back lot.

Darn things. Probably planting more ticks, lol.

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