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Snuffing Out a New Industry | Critter: Greater Sage Grouse | Graphic: Where the Jobs Are | Gender Bender |
On the One Hand...: Ticks | Woe Is Us | Up to Speed

Peter and Maria Hoey


Nurtured by our warming climate, the tick population is booming—and so are tick-borne diseases. As the tiny bloodsuckers scuttle north and east of their old haunts, they're bringing Lyme disease to eastern Canada, Rocky Mountain spotted fever to the coasts, and the malaria-like Nantucket fever—also known as babesiosis—to Minnesota. Ticks are spreading other diseases as well, including tidewater spotted fever, a brand-new malady carried by the Gulf Coast tick.


Ticks may also be spreading a more benign condition: vegetarianism. This is good news for the planet, given that livestock production is a major contributor to climate change. Researchers at the University of Virginia have found that a nibble from the Lone Star tick can cause people to become allergic to alpha-gal, a substance found in the meat of hooved animals. Sufferers—at least 1,500 have been documented thus far, among them author John Grisham—break out in hives or even full-scale anaphylaxis a few hours after eating meat. One infectious disease specialist terms the allergy "the cow's revenge." —Dashka Slater

NEXT: Woe Is Us

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