However, that timeline may need reconsideration thanks in part to a new studycoming out of Norway last week. The team of researchers wanted to see if they could already find ticks in the far north and whether the insects would be carrying bacteria. What they found suggested there may be more reason to worry and also to make sure to be safe when in the bush.
The group looked at a region of Norway close to the Arctic Circle near the city of Brønnøy. It once had a relatively cool climate with an average temperature of around three degrees Celsius. But in the last decade the number had risen significantly to almost seven degrees. In that time, the number of reports of ticks on dogs and humans and associated reports of Lyme infection had also increased. For the study, this was the perfect place to look.
They group ventured out into the wild and looked for another species than the deer tick. In this case, they were looking for Ixodes ricinus, the wood tick. They searched amid the birch and willow trees and the blueberry, juniper and bilberry bushes. They looked only for ticks searching for food, a practice called questing. To be sure the data was sound they performed this activity twice in both 2011 and 2012.
The team collected well over 600 in the course of two annual summer seasons. The ticks were kept in ice until they could be taken back to the lab. Once there, they were checked for any sign of Borrelia burgdorferi.
The results were surprising as the bacteria could be found in anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of the insects. On average, this mean one in every three ticks had the bacterium. This was not good news. Not only had the ticks managed to survive the conditions of the Arctic area, but they had allowed the bacteria to come with them.
The straightforward data led to some pretty harsh conclusions. Ticks were in the North and they were capable of causing Lyme disease. Although the team was unable to conclusively link the rise to climate change, there was little doubt the rise in average temperatures had a role...