It’s Earth Day 2015;
and I hate ticks and mosquitoes

 
A blood engorged Wood Tick, or maybe just
a fossil fuel donation engorged Republican
 

On the recent news feeds one of the series of stories, not only here in Minnesota, but also in Iowa and other states have involved the very costly incidence of avian flu outbreaks in both turkey and chicken industrial operations (as distinct from smaller family farms that do not use intensive ag practices that are both unhealthy and inhumane). As of April 16th, there were millions of dollars in losses, with outbreaks spreading to 26 farms in Minnesota, spread across 14 counties, with additional outbreaks occurring in North Dakota.  Minnesota is the largest turkey producer in the United States, with sales worldwide that are affected by these outbreaks, costing our state economy an as yet untold millions of dollars.

Those outbreaks of avian flu, fortunately this time not a zoonotic variety (infection that is transferable between multiple species, including humans, such as swine flu or bubonic plague) are resulting in huge losses as those entire operations require every animal, regardless of sick or healthy, to be euthanized.

This is not the first of these outbreaks, not only in the central ‘fly over’ states (literally), but occurring in other parts of the country and in other parts of the world.  The most recent outbreaks appear to be along the migratory flight paths of wild birds, which are also affected but not on the same scale of epidemic outbreaks as those of domestic intensive ag operations.

That appears to be because of the inherently unhealthy crowding of industrial ag operations, where birds that are crowded together so closely they cannot lie down or turn around creates inherently more contagion.

But another factor in this disease spread and in the spread of other diseases to multiple species appears to be global warming.  This is not new, this is not a surprise, this has long been predicted as part of the effects of global warming, on disease, on human beings and other species, as well as on plants that are essential food crops, above and beyond the problems of growing seasons changing, drought and flooding, extreme weather increases and increased frequency of episodes of serious wild fires.

A few examples of the scientific articles predicting these kinds of problems:

What will climate change mean for infectious disease?

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f6713 (Published 25 November 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6713

Projecting the impact of global environmental change on patterns of infectious disease is not simply a matter of plotting a rise in predicted temperature change and correlating that with the temperature and geographic range of a pathogen. Disease resides within a complex ecosystem, natural and manmade, which influences whether and how it might become manifest. Our knowledge of these systems is frustratingly limited and incomplete.
As an example, many tropical diseases are temperature dependent for both the pathogen and its vector, often mosquitoes. They thrive only above a certain threshold, speeding their lifecycle as the temperature rises. “It can have a huge difference on [sic] transmission dynamics,” says Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin.
Researchers have compared mosquito maturation in huts in forested areas with their maturation in huts in deforested areas. The difference in temperature was just a few degrees but the percent of insects that transitioned from larva to adulthood jumped from 65% to 82%, and the time to development was cut from 9 to 8 days. According to Patz, the result was a much greater population of mosquitoes to transmit malaria, dengue, or other diseases.

As an example, there is a re-emergence of Dengue fever in Florida.
For those of you not familiar with Dengue fever:

Dengue fever (UK /ˈdɛŋɡeɪ/ or US /ˈdɛŋɡiː/), also known as breakbone fever, is a mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash that is similar to measles. In a small proportion of cases the disease develops into the life-threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever, resulting in bleeding, low levels of blood platelets and blood plasma leakage, or into dengue shock syndrome, where dangerously low blood pressure occurs. …As there is no commercially available vaccine, prevention is sought by reducing the habitat and the number of mosquitoes and limiting exposure to bites….Dengue has become a global problem since the Second World War and is endemic in more than 110 countries.

So we have new USA outbreaks of Dengue fever, which like Ebola, is or at leat can be hemorrhagic. And of course there are many varieties and they mutate, making it difficult to treat.

But it’s not only migratory birds, or mosquitoes, that are some of the early front line victims of global warming changes. We have a problem with both microbes and other parasites as well. Most Minnesotans are conversant with the problems of the tick borne Lyme disease, carried by the dear tick. Fewer Minnesotans are familiar with the taxonimic name of the dear tick, Ixodes (variously dammini and scapularis) or the scientific name for Lyme disease (named for Lyme county Connecticut), which is borrelia bergdoreri, aka Lyme Borreliosis. Fewer are familiar with diseases like West Nile, that are also mosquito borne, and which have caused illness and death, and which in addition to affecting people and birds, have affected horses in Minnesota.

From the Minnesota Department of Health:

West Nile Virus (WNV)

West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-transmitted virus that can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in some people. This virus usually circulates between mosquitoes and birds in Africa and Europe. However, in 1999 an outbreak of West Nile encephalitis was reported in New York City. Since then, the virus has spread to 48 states and the District of Columbia.

From the Minnesota Department of Health on tick borne diseases:

Tick-borne diseases of concern in Minnesota include:

Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is a potentially serious bacterial infection affecting both humans and animals. The incidence of Lyme disease in Minnesota has been increasing in recent years.

Human Anaplasmosis (HA)
Human anaplasmosis, formerly known as human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE) is a bacterial disease that was first recognized in Minnesota in the early 1990s. It is transmitted to people by blacklegged ticks (deer ticks), the same ticks that transmit Lyme disease. HA is less common than Lyme disease, however.

Babesiosis
Babesiosis is a protozoan infection that occurs infrequently in Minnesota. Approximately 20% of patients diagnosed with Babesiosis also have Lyme disease from the same blacklegged tick (deer tick) bite.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is extremely rare in Minnesota, but isolated cases have been reported within the state.

Ehrlichiosis
CDC; Ehrlichiosis caused by Ehrlichia chaffeensis is found throughout much of south-eastern and south-central United States and is not a common disease in Minnesota at this time, although a small number of cases have been reported. Ehrlichiosis due to the Ehrlichia muris-like agent was first reported in 2009. Since then, low numbers of cases have been reported in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Attention: Non-MDH link

Powassan (POW) Virus
Powassan (POW) virus is a tick-transmitted flavivirus.

Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI)
CDC; While STARI is not a known public health concern in Minnesota at this time, people who travel to the south-central United States may be at risk for the disease. Attention: Non-MDH link

Tularemia
Tularemia is a potentially serious illness that occurs naturally in the United States. It is caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis found in animals (especially rodents, rabbits, and hares). Human cases of tularemia are sporadically reported in Minnesota.

WNV was found in Minnesota in 2002 and will remain a public health concern in the foreseeable future.

Getting back to those pesky deer ticks, the Ixodes dammini and scapularis that are problems for Lyme disease: also from Lyme Connecticut, transmissible through deer ticks, and now becoming a greater problem for which we have no cure or vaccine, that thrid from the bottom in the MHD list, Powassan Virus.

Powassan virus is a virus transmitted by ticks. The disease it causes is named after the town of Powassan, Ontario, where it was identified in a young boy who eventually died from it. For some odd reason, whatever Lyme county Connecticut gets, we seem to get, with the darned deer tick being the common denominator. Those Dermacentor ticks mentioned below? Yeah, we have those too, in abundance, the larger and very common woodtick aka Dog tick.

The Powassan Virus (POWV) is normally found in the warm climate across Eurasia where it is part of the TBE-complex.[1] The disease also exists in North America and can be transmitted with bites from the following species of Ixodes ticks: Ix. cookei, Ix scapularis, Ix. marxi, Ix spinipalpus. The Dermacentor ticks, Dermacentor andersonii and Dermacentor variabilis are also vectors of the POWV.[2][3] There are a total of 6 known species of tick that act as vectors, with Ixodes cookei being the predominant species in Canada and the Northeastern United States and Ix. scapularis as a significant vector in Minnesota and Wisconsin.[3] There are rare cases in which Ix. cookei attaches to humans, and as a result the case-patients with POWV have been mostly confirmed as having the strain of POWV, the Deer tick virus (DTV). The Deer Tick Virus plays a vital role in maintaining the POWV and is vectored by Ix. scapularis.[1] Ix. scapularis is an important vector of the enzootic transmission cycle of the Deer Tick Virus.[1] Ix. scapularis is also a primary vector for the agent of Lyme disease because they are a generalist feeder and readily bite humans. The Powassan virus is transmitted by ticks among small mammals in eastern Canada and the United States, where it has been responsible for 49 deaths in the U.S. between 2000–2011.[verification needed][4] In North America, the Powassan Virus has been noted as the only tick-borne Flavivirus with human pathogenicity so far.[5]

From City Pages back in 2011:

Tick-born Powassan virus kills in Minnesota for the first time
Add the grim tick-born Powassan virus to the list of natural calamities – tornadoes, floods — that can kill you this summer in Minnesota.

The first known fatality from the virus in the state was a woman identified by the Department of Health only as being in her 60s, from northern Minnesota. She was most likely bitten by an infected tick in May while outside near her home, or a cabin.

An unidentified man from Anoka County also contracted the virus from a tick bite in May, but he survived.

On the other hand, it’s a miserable illness with which to cope, attacking the central nervous system, causing inflammation of the brain – known as encephalitis — or the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis). MDH says Victim report fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, loss of coordination, speech difficulties, and memory loss within one to five weeks of an infectious bite.


And this article
addresses the increase in other parasite transmitted diseases, Babesia, Ehrlichiosis aka HGA, — all of which are increasing in large part due to changes in climate patterns and global warming.

List of diseases spread by deer tick grows, including malaria-like problems and potentially fatal encephalitis

We have a health problem, we have food problems – both plant and animal in origin, directly increasing due to global warming and climate change.

Sadly we also have a larger problem, tragically stupid people who still think global warming can’t be real if they can make a snow ball, or that climate change won’t harm us, because Jesus loves us and wouldn’t do that.  We have our home-grown dummies under the thumb of the dirty fossil fuel fools:

And we don’t only have the dumbassery of Gruenhage, we also have the religous dumbassery magical thinking that ignores cause and effect, and which reflects a profoundly disturbing science illiteracy, of Minnesota legislators like Mike Beard:

Mike Beard, a Republican state representative from Minnesota, recently argued that coal mining should resume in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, in part because he believes God has created an earth that will provide unlimited natural resources.

“God is not capricious. He’s given us a creation that is dynamically stable,” Beard told MinnPost. “We are not going to run out of anything.”

Beard is currently in the midst of drafting legislation that would overturn Minnesota’s moratorium on coal-fired power plants, an effort that he backs due to his religious belief that God will provide limitless resources while ensuring that humans don’t destroy the planet trying to get them.

Beard left the lege in 2014; but the problem with conservative science illiterates remains. And in states like Wisconsin and Florida, the state is not only refusing to address those issues, but gagging their employees from even using the terms or in any way addressing those problems, as if the equivalent of sticking your thumbs in your ears and sayin “LA LAHHH LAH LA LAAAAHHH really loud will make the problems go away.

We are running out of lots of things; not ticks and mosquitoes or diseases, but lots of other things we WANT and NEED.

You can recognize those Republicans who are science deniers, because like wood ticks are engorged with blood, they are engorged with fossil fuel money helping to persuade them to act against the interests of the rest of us.  You should care, because their stupidity could KILL YOU, either directly or indirectly, as dead as all those turkeys in Minnesota or those hens in Iowa.

As identified by Think Progress, 56% of Congressional Republicans are science deniers, specifically climate change/ global warming deniers.  Here is the Minnesota contingent of the dumbass GOP, via Bill Moyers:

MINNESOTA
Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN-06): “Biodiversity, diversity to me means you’ve got to look at both sides. You know what, the empirical evidence does not support this and the other reps that have talked. There is another side. Just because we make these chambers available to Will Steger and the crowd that wants to rely on Al Gore’s climate porn doesn’t mean that that’s the way it is. There is another side to the story, one that we tried to present a couple of months ago, but apparently it’s frowned upon by the folks that are in control so it doesn’t get the same play in this room. Folks, there is another side.” [ThinkProgress, 10/13/10]
Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN-03): When asked if human beings are contributing to global warming, Paulsen said he wasn’t smart enough to know whether that’s true or not. [Minnesota Public Radio, 8/16/08]

While no quotes were available for John Kline, his voting record and policy positions, as well as his donors from the fossil fuel interests show he is clearly another climate change/global warming denier.  As noted by Open Secrets.org:

Political donations from the industry – which includes gas producers and refiners, natural gas pipeline companies, gasoline stations, and fuel oil dealers – have taken on an increasingly conservative tint over the past two decades. In the 2012 cycle, 90 percent of its contributions went to the GOP.

We have one planet on which to live. We should value it, and take care of it, and not F*ck it up. Think about tht today, Earth Day 2015 — but also think about it the rest of the year as well.