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Ticks are Rapidly Becoming the World’s Scariest Purveyors of Deadly Pathogens

In this article from Outdoor Magazine, Carl Zimmer walks into the woods to find out why these tiny beasts are skyrocketing in number – and outsmarting scientists with every bite. The author visits Lyme, Connecticut, the town where Lyme disease was first discovered and writes many interesting things about ticks. For example, in a 2010 report on the dangers of ticks, the Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, declared the animals, with what sounds almost like admiration, “the Swiss Army knife of disease vectors.” Even worse, while Lyme may be the best-known disease carried by ticks, it’s hardly the only one. Ticks have been around for about 300 million years, according to evolutionary biologists, and today there are 878 known species, found on every continent. The lone star tick, which lives in the Southeast and the Midwest, carries bacteria called Ehrlichia. Meanwhile, dog ticks and Rocky Mountain spotted ticks carry proteins that can, on rare occasion, cause a condition called tick paralysis. Click here to read the full article.

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