The N&O has a story today from medical writer Sarah Avery on the increasing threat of Lyme disease in North Carolina.
Victims of the disease and their advocates lined up last month, pleading with the Chapel Hill Town Council to do something about the growing deer population. Some believe deer carry the ticks that carry Lyme disease, an illness that can cause long-term fatigue, brain inflammation, muscle pain and facial paralysis.
"This is really serious stuff," said Dr. Patricia Clark, a board member with the Tick-Borne Infections Council of North Carolina. "Victims often say they wish they were dead."
The council asked town staff to try and estimate the deer population, assess how deer are damaging the town's plant life and suggest potential ways to reduce the population, including a possible urban bowhunt.
Hunting proponents cited damage to backyard gardens and traffic safety problems, but some of the most emotional testimony came from Lyme victims. Faye Orr, another TIC-NC board member, said she has suffered for years, was forced to retire early and lost two pets to Lyme disease.
"When they had typhoid in Rome, they had to kill the rats," said Dr. David Clemmons, a professor at UNC's medical school. "This is a serious public health problem."
But state public-health veterinarian Carl Williams said no studies have shown one way or the other whether reducing the deer population would reduce episodes of Lyme disease.
"In theory, it should work, but to the best of my knowledge, I haven't read that," he said.