As many of you know, I advocate spending time in the outdoors, for exercise, enjoying nature, getting sunlight and more. I love the outdoors. We have 33 acres of land, and here I play with my horses and my children, and spend time enjoying the serenity it brings me. Enjoying the outdoors should not change, but it would be prudent to be mindful of the influx of disease carrying critters in the light of climate change, in this case, the deer tick.

The change in our climate has impacted life of all kinds, some negatively and others positively. Ticks are thriving with climate change, and Lyme disease is on the rise. Just a few years ago my daughter, who was a little girl at the time, woke up one day with a large target-like lesion on the back of her leg. I was suspicious, but needed expert advice. Enter Dr. Richard Freitag, Entomologist, aka “Dad”.

My father is an entomologist, who has spent his career studying insects. He is world renowned for his work on Tiger Beetles and he is the go-to guy for identifying all sorts of multi-legged creatures.

Dr. Freitag (Dad) identified the lesion on my daughter’s leg, and I brought her to the hospital. The lesion was so uncommon at the time, that all available doctors in the hospital were notified and encouraged to come to the Emergency department to “take a look” at the signature target-like rash. My daughter was treated with a round of antibiotics, and she is just fine.

We determined that our family dog had likely brought the tick in, as we subsequently discovered he was curling up on our daughter’s bed during the day. We never did see a tick. My daughter was lucky. Such a simple resolution isn’t always the case. Many people never notice a tick or a target-like rash, and many are left with debilitating symptoms that exist beyond treatment, especially if the treatment is not prompt. It is important to know how to avoid a tick bite in the first place, and what to do if you get bitten.

Ticks typically hang out in tall grass, and drop onto mammals as they pass by. (especially mice) Tip number one: keep the grass cut short.

Ticks can carry and pass on Lyme disease during all stages of development. This means even the tiniest, most immature stages of the deer tick may carry Lyme disease. The immature deer tick can be a small as the head of a pin. Tip number two: don’t assume you haven’t been bitten just because you never did see a tick.

Ticks tend to come out in the spring and again (in a lesser degree) in the late summer or early fall. Tip number three: Be especially aware of ticks during these times of the year.

The only tick that carries Lyme disease is the deer tick, otherwise known as the “Black-Legged Tick. Tip four: Take a look at the picture above and know how to identify this particular tick.

Tip five: When you are out in forested or grassy areas, pull socks over pant legs, tie hair back and if possible wear boots. Shower when you get home if you were in an environment where ticks thrive.

An interesting observation is that among people who have suffered lingering effects of Lyme disease as a result of late treatment, there are countless reports of full recovery from those who adopt whole foods, plant-based diets, raw vegan diets and Gerson Therapy in an effort to combat the disease. While anecdotal, this should not be overlooked.

Below you will find an article about ticks by my Dad that may be helpful. Please feel free to print this off and share. By the way, my Dad is 81 this year, and over the past few years has adopted a whole foods, plant-based diet, off of statins and doing great. I am so proud of him!

I hope you find this helpful. If so, feel free to share this article, and if you are inclined, I love getting “likes” on the Taiga Whole Health Facebook page.  Thank you!

In gratitude and good health,​​​​​​​



Ticks and Mites

Hold onto your hats, here comes another season of “bugs”.
Among the insects and spiders, ticks and mites become active this time of year too, but we often don’t see them because they are normally very small. Ticks and mites are related to the daddy long legs, spiders and scorpions. They have no antennae; adults have four pairs of legs; the head and rest of the body are fused together; and the mouthparts jut out from the front end of the body. Their lifecycle includes four stages: the egg, larva, nymph, and adult. The eggs are usually deposited under the surface of the soil, in leaf litter, and crevices among rocks, and some parasitic mites place their eggs in the tissues of their host. Ticks and mites are important in medicine and veterinary science because some of them are carriers of diseases and infections affecting humans and domestic animals, while others may cause skin irritations and allergic reactions. Still other species occur as internal parasites in the lungs and air sacks of snakes, birds, and mammals. Ticks and mites although belonging to the same order (Acarina) can be separated mainly by size, ticks being usually 3 mm or more in length, while mites are rarely more than 1 mm in length.

The role of ticks in the human economy merits some special attention. As carriers of human diseases they run a close second to mosquitoes. Ticks are known to transmit Jine groups of microbial organisms: (1) spirochetal, such as relapsing fever, (2) rickettsial, such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever; (3) bacterial, such as tularemia; (4) viral, such as Colorado Tick Fever; and (5) protozoan, such as Texas Fever. They also cause tick paralysis, which is probably produced by a neurotoxin in the tick’s saliva.

The dog tick Dermacentor variabilis, a vector of the agents of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and tularemia, is widely distributed east of the Rocky Mountains and also occurs on the PaciJic Coast. Dogs are the preferred host of the adult tick, although it also feeds on the blood of other large mammals, including humans. Adult ticks cling to low vegetation in spring, waiting to attach to a passing host. Males feed and mate on the host, and females feed, mate, and gorge on the host’s blood, and drop off to lay thousands of eggs. Upon hatching larva remain close to mouse runs where they attach to and feed on mice and other small animals. They soon drop off their host and molt. The emerging nymphs continue a feeding activity similar to that of the larva, and molt. The whole lifecycle requires from four months to a year.

The deer tick, Ixodes dammini, has a similar lifecycle to that of the dog tick but it may last up to two years. The preferred hosts are deer and mice, however deer ticks will also feed on humans, birds, rabbits, lizards, horses, cattle, dogs, cats and other animals. This tick species carries the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi that it obtains from mice while drawing blood, a pathogen that causes Lyme disease in humans and pets. The symptoms of Lyme disease are similar to those of inJluenza, which are accompanied by a large, red, target-like skin rash where the tick bite occurred.
When individuals show signs of tick transmitted diseases medical attention should be sought as soon as possible for appropriate treatment. Two effective actions that can be taken to reduce tick contact are: (1) apply a well-known insect repellent while in the woods; (2) wear long sleeves and pants of tight woven fabric, and pant cuffs tucked in under long socks to prevent ticks from crawling under clothing.

Dr. Richard Freitag

Professor Emeritus, Biology

Lakehead University