Tag Archives: ticks

Science writer follows the trail of tick bites and a meat allergy

Photo: Jakub Steiner</a> via Flickr

Photo: Jakub Steiner via Flickr

A feature story exploring how some ticks can cause people to develop an allergy to meat was one of the winners of AHCJ’s 2020 Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. Its author, freelance journalist Bianca Nogrady, looked closely at this allergy — called Alpha-gal syndrome — which is on the rise in multiple countries, though the number of people who have developed it is unknown.

Nogrady spoke with AHCJ about the story and her advice to journalists covering this subject. Continue reading

Ticks — and the diseases they carry — are likely becoming a big story in your area

Photo: Jonathan Harford via Flickr

Photo: Jonathan Harford via Flickr

The mild winter in the U.S. suggests that it will be a busy year for ticks — just as more Americans are emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Disease ecologists told Grist magazine that there is an uptick in people reporting ticks on their pets and themselves throughout the country, raising the risk there will be an increase in Lyme disease and other tick-borne related illnesses in 2021.

“All these people complaining of a horrendous year” with ticks, Rick Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y., told Grist. “They’re actually right.” Continue reading

Tick season increasingly begins sooner with climate change

Image by Penn State via Flickr

Ticks are emerging earlier from winter hibernation and remaining active for more weeks of the year as the climate is warming, according to public health experts. The result is that Americans’ risk of infection from pathogens carried by the outdoor pests is increasing.

“There are more tick-borne disease [cases] every year,” John Aucott, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center, told WebMD. Continue reading

Addressing the controversy over ‘chronic Lyme disease’

Image by Penn State via Flickr

Image by Penn State via Flickr

Covering Lyme disease can be a complicated endeavor. It’s hard to diagnose, and it’s even more difficult to decide what to call the ongoing symptoms. Janice Lynch Schuster reported on the controversy in The Washington Post, discussing both Lyme disease and its aftereffects.

According to the American Lyme Disease Foundation, Lyme disease, a bacterial infection spread by deer ticks (also known as blacklegged ticks), can cause fever, chills, and severe joint pain. However, detecting a tiny tick is a challenge, and the famous red bull’s-eye rash associated with Lyme-carrying tick bites doesn’t always occur. Many people suffer symptoms for months without a diagnosis, and those suffering the effects of Lyme disease are frequently brushed off by health care professionals, who dismiss symptoms as psychosomatic or stress-related.

As if that weren’t enough, the 300,000 people thought to be infected with Lyme disease each year may suffer chronic symptoms such as body pain or “brain fog” even after diagnosis and antibiotic treatment.  Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that 10 percent to 20 percent of people who are diagnosed with the disease and complete a two- to four-week course of antibiotics will “have lingering symptoms of fatigue, pain, or joint and muscle aches,” known as “post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome.”

However, other experts are quick to dismiss the idea of post-Lyme syndrome. It’s important for journalists writing about Lyme disease to understand the disagreement in the medical community over these lingering effects.

Continue reading