Connecting the Dots Between Climate Change and Tick-Borne Disease
Dr. Richard Horowitz, renowned internist specializing in treating tick-borne disorders and best-selling author, discusses his newest novel detailing the connections between climate change and tick-borne illnesses, as well as what can be done to reverse the current climate crisis.
Dr. Horowitz, a world renowned author and physician specializing in treatments of tick-borne illnesses has treated more than 13,000 patients over 30+ years. (Seen here with Dr. Andrew Weil)
Q: Dr. Horowitz, can you explain the connection between Lyme, other tick-borne diseases and the rising change in temperature?
The worlds of tick-borne disease and climate change are far closer than one might imagine. As many of us know, we are presently in the middle of an epidemic of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. A decade ago, the United States was reporting approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease per year, however, according to the CDC that number has skyrocketed to nearly 500,000 cases yearly. These numbers aren’t isolated to the United States either; Europe, Asia, and Australia all report similar situations. One of the primary reasons for this significant increase in tick-borne diseases is climate change. The reproductive rates of insect populations, including ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas thrive in higher global temperatures, resulting in higher numbers of vector-borne illnesses. This isn’t limited to tick-borne disease either, diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and West Nile will all see increased case numbers as well.
Q: Starseed R/evolution: The Awakening is obviously a big shift from your previous two books, Why Can’t I Get Better? and How Can I Get Better?. What prompted this new novel?
The truth is, a sci-fi climate change novel was not on my original bucket list. I have worked as a physician treating individuals with Lyme and tick-borne diseases for over 30 years, and a good deal of my patients are young adults. Following treatment, I would ask them, “What do you plan on doing with your life now that you’re healthy”? Previously, I would hear, “Go to college”, or “Get a job”. However, over a period of years, answers began to shift. All of a sudden, I wasn’t hearing stories of hope anymore, but of hopelessness. Often, the responses were the same, “Nothing, what’s the point”. These young people were struck by what is classified as “climate grief”, and it is increasingly common. To them, the state of the planet seemed so desperate, that what they wanted to do with their lives was irrelevant and meaningless. It was at that point that I knew I needed to do a deep dive into climate science literature, to get a better understanding of my patients’ mentalities. As I read more and more, I found that my patients were right. The planet was in trouble, and world leaders were doing little to stop the impending crisis. All of our futures were and continue to be in danger.
Q: How can we do our part to join the r/evolution and help save our planet from further peril caused by tick-borne illness?
Thank you for asking! The good news is that climate scientists have identified climate solutions, which, if instituted now, on a global scale, can reverse humanity’s present course of destruction. In my new book, Starseed R/evolution: The Awakening I outline both these scientific solutions as well as cultural solutions. The truth is, that the climate crisis isn’t hopeless. Preorder Starseed R/evolution today, and join us to help save our planet! Let’s all get to work to build a happier and healthier world for us, and for generations to come.
I always relay to patients that they should be wearing safe and effective tick repellents like Ranger Ready when they are outdoors to protect themselves from tick-borne illness and other vector-borne disease. Even if you are just in your backyard, ticks are out and about - be vigilant!