Beware the Blood Sucking Parasites This Christmas


10868_crop1Do you have a real Christmas tree?  A lot of people are switching to artificial trees these days but we opted for a real tree — although in our house it’s a Holiday Tree, rather than a Christmas Tree.  Whatever you call your tree — a Christmas tree, ein Tannenbaum, a Chanukah bush, or simply a Holiday Tree — if it’s real, you may want to be a bit careful; there may be blood-sucking parasites lurking amongst its branches.

The problem, according to the German version of The Local, is that ticks may be hanging out on your tree.  Ticks can survive temperatures as low as -7 degrees Celsius (about 20 degrees Fahrenheit), so unless your tree has seen some serious cold, any ticks that came in with it are just dandy and awaiting their next lunch.  Ticks, of course, carry a whole host of diseases, including Lyme disease, Tick-borne meningoencephalitis, and babesiosis, a malaria-like disease.  In addition, ticks are just plain icky.

Now, this is probably not a serious issue and not cause for undue concern, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to check yourself and your kids after decorating the tree or passing out gifts just to be sure.  Personally, I hate ticks — I’ve never been attacked by one in all my years of hiking, camping, and backpacking, but my daughter got one on only her fifth camping trip — so as unlikely as finding a tick in your tree might be, this is easily the best argument I’ve heard for switching to an artificial tree.

Photo: CDC PHIL/James Gathany