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On climate justice: Temperatures and ticks on the rise mean greater risk of certain illnesses

Tick on a leaf

Climate change leads to ecological change 

Warming temperatures, increased precipitation and more frequent severe weather have already led to changes in our local ecology. As nighttime temperatures increase (on average), the species that rely on specific temperatures each season, begin to struggle. And populations of species that thrive in warmer conditions, such as emerald ash borer, mosquitos and ticks, can thrive. This can lead to increases in these insect populations and decreases in populations of their predators. That leads to higher risk of contracting illness from insects. 

Protect yourself from vector-borne illness 

In Minnesota, common vector borne illnesses include West Nile Virus, Lyme Disease and Anaplasmosis. People who spend a lot of time outside are at higher risk of contracting these illnesses. Here are some ways to protect yourself from mosquito and tick bites: 

  • Use mosquito and tick repellants
  • Wear loose-fitting, light-colored and long-sleeved clothing. 
  • Check for ticks after spending time outside and remove them promptly. 
  • Avoid outdoor activity during dusk and dawn, peak mosquito feeding time. 
  • Remove items that may collect water from around your home.  

County-led work to prevent and treat vector-borne illness 

Several local governments and municipalities, including Ramsey County, are diversifying tree selection in future projects to reduce the likelihood of widespread future harm from insects like emerald ash borer. 

Ramsey County Parks and Recreation and Public Health work collaboratively to track case rates and locations associated with vector-borne illness. The county also works to educate residents about tick-borne illness and how to identify early signs and symptoms of illness so residents can seek timely treatment. 

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This article is featured in Green Ramsey, an environmental health newsletter from Ramsey County.   
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Posted on Monday, May 1, 2023 - 8:11 a.m.