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Move Over Mosquitoes; Deer Ticks Thrive On Changing Climate

May 4, 2010

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Move over, mosquitoes! The deer ticks are soaking up climate change and could become a rival problem. According to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), climate change is allowing a host of exotic species to move into new areas, where they will continue to spread disease and destroy resources.

Doug Inkley, a senior scientist at the Federation says there are concerns about the increase in the transmission of Lyme disease in wooded areas like much of West Virgia.

"Lyme disease is transmitted by the deer tick and the deer tick is expected to increase its range by some 60 percent."

Others on the list of booming pests around the country are the tiger mosquito, the fire ant and the pine bark beetle.

Inkley says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is closely watching the growth of these species.

"The CDC has expressed concern about the implications of climate change for increased disease. Dengue fever being potentially transmitted by tiger mosquitoes is only one of many threats."

Inkley says restoring landscapes and streams, including planting trees and shrubs along banks, can bring jobs as well as help protect the environment.

Some people say the warnings of increased pests and disease is all hype intended to scare people, but Inkley says residents should prepare for more itching and pests if action isn't taken to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV