Growing up, I never did much hunting. My family lived on a horse farm, and flying bullets could prove bad for equines.
So we indulged in an equally outdoorsy pursuit: fishing. I spent many a summer day coating myself in a fog of Off! before strolling down to a stream with a rod and reel.
Though applying the bug spray was far from my favorite part of the endeavor, I knew that it was necessary. Not only would it keep off the mosquitoes, it would protect me from ticks, that most dreaded of pests.
Now Illinois resident Jennifer Struble Russell is issuing a stark warning to hunters and all outdoorsmen on Facebook about how prevalent ticks can be. In addition to having a family member who suffers from a tick-borne illness, Russell maintains Spotlight on Lyme QCA News, so she’s familiar with the topic.
“OK, people,” she wrote on Nov. 16, “my brother got a deer. So being obsessed with ticks, I ran down there with my Ziploc and gloves. …
“Once they got it hung, I kept picking and combing. Got home and counted 43 ticks in the bag off one deer!”
Russell’s interest is more than mere morbid curiosity. She’s currently working with the University of Illinois to begin a system to track tick-borne disease.
There’s need of it. According to CBS News, incidents of such diseases have tripled in the past 13 years. More than 600,000 cases of those illnesses were reported, although experts suspect there might be more.
CDC Director Robert R. Redfield said, “Zika, West Nile, Lyme, and chikungunya — a growing list of diseases caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, tick, or flea — have confronted the U.S. in recent years, making a lot of people sick. And we don’t know what will threaten Americans next.”
CBS News also reported that there’s a new tick-borne disease out there: People bit by a lone star tick may develop allergies to red meat.
How does it work? Well, the tick bite can cause the human body to react to a certain chemical component in red meat.
Experts believe that roughly 3,000 people have developed the condition. And sometimes these diseases can be traced to (you guessed it) deer.
Russell starkly highlighted this with her brother’s deer. She said, “If you get a deer and hang it in your shed or garage, as soon as that deers blood starts cooling, TICKS DROP OFF … ALIVE … and are now crawling around said structure waiting for their next blood meal.
“I had [someone] put a sheet down under the deer that I sprayed with PERMETHRIN and we reuse it. So if a tick falls on the sheet it will die.”
For those not aware, PERMETHRIN is a drug designed to kill head lice. However, it also does a number on ticks.
Russell’s interest is more personal than academic. “My 13-year-old daughter has spent half her life ill and struggling, so that’s why I feel this is research is so important. … ALWAYS check for ticks!”
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