By Michael Crupain, MD, MPH
I think most of us probably think that as humans we are pretty removed from what happens in “nature.” And certainly in medical school we didn’t have any classes on how human health is dependent on the health of the ecosystem. Despite this sentiment though, human beings are still linked to the environment and what effects nature also affects our health. This is true whether we are talking about something as big as climate change or apparently something as small as acorns.
Last week’s New York Times reminded us of this link in the article, After Lean Acorn Crop in Northeast, Even People May Feel the Effects. It turns out that this year is a very bad year for acorn production. While we don’t have much direct use for acorns, field mice, deer, and birds do. Without these acorns the deer will wander further out of the cover of the forest and be more likely to be hit by cars. This results in not only dead Deer, but also serious injuries for drivers.
Acorn abundance also has an effect of the risk of humans acquiring Lyme disease and the article states that 2012 may be “the worst year for Lyme disease ever.” The reason for this has to do with the effect of acorns on the population of both mice and deer.