Weekly Newsletter

How to love nature and protect yourself from ticks!

Update your brain on new tick-transmitted diseases, a human Lyme vaccine on the horizon and why it's important to love nature—despite tick risk.
A color photograph of a young white woman with short blond hair wearing a white t-shirt, laying outside in a field of wildflowers with her face up to the sky.

Your humble newsletter authoress contracted Lyme disease 30 years ago + has not been fully healthy since. She still walks in the woods every darned day. So you can trust this week’s newsletter to encourage both awareness and joy when it comes to avoiding tick-transmitted diseases.

Here’s the latest on a potential Lyme disease vaccine, new tick-carried diseases and why spending time outside is healthy for adults + kids alike.

  • The Checkup: easing up for more joy
  • Ticked Off: diseases + vaccines + nature
  • Healthcare: boosters + ADHD + melatonin

The Checkup

A Lyme vaccine ahead?

A color outdoor photograph of a middle-aged white woman weaing jeans and a blue shirt, moving the lawn outside her colonial house, while her son climbs around the porch.

Here’s excellent news for those who love walking in tall grass: According to Axios, humans may finally have access to a Lyme disease vaccine as early as 2025!

Lyme vaccines have long been available for dogs. But the closest humans have gotten is the short-lived LYMERix, which was pulled from the market in 2002. (Here’s a fascinating dive into that hot mess.)

Moderna has two mRNA vaccine candidates in the works. And Pfizer now has one in late-stage trials. In separate studies, researchers are also looking into inoculating mice to make the ticks that bite them resistant to Lyme so they can’t then spread it to humans.

Until then, protect yourself against ticks with repellents that contain at least 20% Deet or Picaridin. (Deet smells. Picaradin doesn’t.) We love Picaridin body products + Permethrin clothes sprays from Sawyer Products + Ranger Ready.

Ticks carry more than just Lyme

A colorful outdoor photograph of a young white man with a short beard, blue sunglasses and a colorful pink shirt, lying on a patch of yellow flowers, arms up and facing the sky.

Warmer weather means ticks are in more regions of the US and for extended periods of time. And while blacklegged (deer) ticks inflict at least 40,000 people in the US with Lyme disease every year, this Time article wants us to stay alert about the 21 other tick-borne diseases the CDC tracks.

Here are a few to watch for:

  • Alpha gal syndrome: Inflicted by the lone star tick, it causes a severe allergy to red meat. 
  • Anaplasmosis: Transmitted by blacklegged ticks, antibiotics can treat early flu-like symptoms. But severe disease can happen after late diagnosis + in people with compromised immune systems. 
  • Borrelia mayonii: A new infection found in blacklegged ticks, this is causing Lyme disease for those in the upper midwestern states.
  • The Bourbon virus: Spread by the lone star tick in the Midwest and southern states, this new illness may cause flu-like symptoms. It may also lower white blood cell counts (which fight infections) and platelet counts (which prevent bleeding).
  • The Powassan virus: Blacklegged + groundhog ticks spread this virus in the northeast + Great Lakes region. There’s no treatment for it. Severe cases cause brain + spine inflammation. Half of those who survive it live with long-term health issues.

Love nature anyway, kids!

A color outdoor photograph of a young Asian boy wearing a pink and gray striped shirt, climbing on the branches of a tree with bright green leaves.

According to this recent Self article, the average American child spends only four to seven minutes outside every day!! That’s a good enough reason for all of us to plan extra time playing in the great outdoors.

Studies suggest that exposure to nature can reduce stress levels in kids by almost 30%. It encourages cognitive benefits like increased self-control and executive function and creates more moments of awe. Physically, playing outside can increase strength, fine motor skills, risk assessment and distance vision—a vital step to counteract all that screen time.

Read the article for more + tips on how to instill a love of nature in kids.

Healthcare 411

Do I need a spring booster? (Your Local Epidemiologist). 90% of people who go to the hospital for or with Covid-19 haven’t gotten the bivalent booster. That stat should encourage you to get the jab if you haven’t. Otherwise, consider getting a second bivalent booster if you’re over 75 years old, over 65 years old with comorbidity or any age and moderately or severely immunocompromised. Read the summary for more tips on timing, wastewater tracking updates + why you shouldn't get a Covid-19 vaccine and the flu shot together.

America’s adult ADHD problem (The Atlantic). The FDA announced a shortage of Adderall six months ago. This nuanced Atlantic article highlights the gaps in healthcare that got us to where we are now. They include a doubling of adult ADHD diagnoses between 2007 and 2016, pandemic health disruptions that compromised attention and DEA caps on Schedule II drugs that prohibit increased production. There’s also no clinical guideline for diagnosis + a penchant to prescribe Adderall when other treatments might be more appropriate.

CDC to stop tracking Covid levels in communities (NCB). When the Covid-19 Health Emergency ends on May 11th, the CDC will stop tracking community transmission levels. They cite falling case rates + increased at-home tests as making transmission rates challenging to measure. Instead, they’ll track Covid-19 hospitalization rates, as they do for the flu. If you’re at high risk for severe illness and want to stay on top of transmission rates, follow Covid-19 wastewater monitoring from Biobot Analytics.

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