Archive for category Borrelia burgdorferi

ELISA and Western Blot Tests for Lyme

Lyme disease is a growing problem in the United States. This year, the CDC estimated that they are possibly 10 times the number of cases than those that are actually reported, making it nearly 300,000 cases a year!

Tick BiteWe’ve mentioned that diagnosis can be an issue with Lyme disease. Its symptoms are many, but there is only one telltale sign of Lyme. If a patient goes to the doctor with a large bull’s eye rash, it is a clear symptom of Lyme and the patient will quickly be put on antibiotics. If, however, a patient comes in complaining of fatigue and fever, there are numerous ailments that it could be and Lyme may not be the first thought, especially if the patient doesn’t remember any tick bites.

The best way to diagnose Lyme is through a series of blood tests that gauge your body’s reaction to the disease. Even these, unfortunately, are not a 100% accurate. If the test is taken too early, there may be no presence of antibodies in your blood.

The first test most often used for Lyme is called the Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test. The test looks for antibodies for the Lyme causing bacteria, B. burgdorferi. The ELISA test isn’t enough to confirm Lyme disease because it isn’t 100% accurate. According to Lymedisease.org, it isn’t sensitive enough to detect all antibodies. Additionally, it can result in some false positives so a Western Blot test is usually requested to confirm.

A Western Blot test looks at different proteins of the blood to detect the antibodies. For the Western Blot test, blood is placed on a strip that creates bands when certain proteins are present. When proteins are high, the bands appear darker. To gauge the presence of signs, the number, placement and color of the bands are analyzed. The bands look similar to a barcode when printed out. If the ELISA test says that a patient has Lyme and the Western Blot doesn’t, Lyme is not the probable cause of symptoms. If both are positive, however, the patients will most likely start treatment to combat Lyme.

Our bodies normally won’t show the antibody proteins if the test is taken too early. The best time to take the tests is 4 to 6 weeks after infection.

The key to Lyme is vigilance. Make sure to do a thorough tick check after spending any time in the outdoors where ticks may be present. If you are bitten, make note of where and when and, if possible, keep the tick. Yes, I said keep the tick. Place the tick in a plastic bag just in case you do get sick and you need the tick tested.

At Mosquito Squad, we protect families from the dangers of tick through tick control for the yard. A combination of our barrier spray and tick tubes will cut down on the tick population drastically in the defined area. If you have any questions on ticks or Lyme, please reach out to your local Mosquito Squad office.

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Possible Lyme Disease Vaccine Does Well in Preliminary Testing

Since May is Lyme disease Awareness Month it is fitting that just last week news of a clinical trial for a Lyme disease vaccine is going well was released. Lyme disease numbers have grown over the last several years here in the U.S and what was once considered a New England-based disease has, unfortunately, expanded its reach.

The Lyme disease vaccine is being developed and tested at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine and Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. The initial findings have been published by The Lancet Infectious Diseases’ website.

The vaccine triggers the body to create antibodies against Borrelia, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. While there are hundreds of Borrelia variations, this vaccine is said to fight against all those that are carried in the Northern hemisphere. In early trials consisted of 300 volunteers that each received three immunizations and one booster. The researchers are happy with the results so far and excited to see it advance to the next stages of testing. As Dr. Luft, a co-author of the paper explains:

“The results of the clinical trial conducted by Baxter are promising because the vaccine generated a potent human immune reaction, covered the complete range of Borrelia active in the Northern hemisphere, and produced no major side effects. We hope that a larger-scale, Phase 3 trial will demonstrate not only a strong immune response but true efficacy in a large population that illustrates protection against Lyme disease” (Source).

A common frustration with Lyme disease is that it isn’t easily diagnosed. While many people relate Lyme to the bulls-eye rash, many patients never develop it. Most of the symptoms related to Lyme are unfortunately the same as those related to the flu and arthritis, like joint paint, fever, fatigue, headaches and more. The longer a patient goes without a proper diagnosis, the worse some symptoms can become. A vaccine would be a great first step in being more proactive in fighting the battle against Lyme.

At Mosquito Squad, we help combat Lyme with our tick treatments for the yard. Our barrier spray knocks down any adult ticks it sprays during application. Further protection includes tick tubes that are placed in parts of the yard where mice are most active. Tick tubes hold treated cotton that the mice will bring back to their nests. Most ticks actually get their first blood meal from mice, so when they come in contact with the treated cotton, they’ll die. The number of tick tubes your yard needs will depend upon the size of your yard. Contact your local Mosquito Squad office to learn more about our tick control services.

If you live in an area that is known to have Lyme and you spend any time outdoors, make sure you do a thorough tick check after coming inside, including behind your knees and under your arms. These hard-to-reach places are tick favorites. If you do find an attached tick, make sure to remove it properly with tweezers and put it in a plastic bag if you can, that way you can have it tested if you do indeed start to show symptoms of Lyme.

We at Mosquito Squad are excited to see the news of the Lyme disease vaccine and will be keeping all of you posted!

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Lyme Disease App – helping to prevent and fight Lyme disease

I never thought that I would download a Lyme disease application on my phone, but the American Lyme Disease Foundation (ALDF) proved me wrong. At the end of last summer, the ALDF released an iPhone app title “Lyme Disease Tick Map” to educate people on the dangers of Lyme disease ways to prevent it. At Mosquito Squad, we have seen some crazy tick and mosquito control phone apps, but haven’t been very impressed, but I have to say this app has some pretty cool tools inside.

Here is the icon for the ALDF's iPhone app

Here is the icon for the ALDF’s iPhone app

When you open the Lyme Disease Tick Map application, it gives you a table of contents for an easy way to find information. Here’s what it offers:

Tick Map. It is just what it says. The application will read where you are currently located and tell you how likely you are to be bitten by an infected tick. For example, I am located in Richmond, VA and it tells me that right now it is rare that I would be bitten by a tick infected with Lyme. The scale goes from no ticks to an abundance of ticks.

How to Prevent Lyme Disease. This section provides the user with bullet points on how to avoid tick bites (and thus Lyme disease), including wearing the appropriate clothing and better areas to walk if you are spending time outdoors.

ALDF's app provides information through the table of contents

ALDF’s app provides information through the table of contents

How to Identify a Tick. For those people who live in areas with several species of ticks, this section of ALDF’s app is really helpful. It includes images of the most common types of ticks for quick comparisons. In the deer tick section (deer ticks are the only ticks that transmit Lyme disease), the images are clickable so you that you can see the differences between larva, nymph, male and female ticks and it will tell you which ones are most likely to bite and spread Lyme.

How to Remove a Tick. There are a ton of theories regarding the best way to remove an attached tick. Unfortunately, several of them not only don’t help, but may increase your chances of getting Lyme. This section of the app provides both a video and a step-by-step guide covering how to remove the tick properly.

Duration of Attachment. The longer a tick has been feeding, the more likely it is that Lyme disease has been transferred to you (if the tick is infected). It can be difficult to know, however, how long a tick has been attached (I don’t know about you, but I don’t look at the back of my knee all too often). The duration of attachment section show pictures of ticks at different stages of attachment so the user can compare the photos and decide if they need to see a doctor.

Lyme Disease Symptoms. This section is not for the squeamish! It shows pictures as well as describes different symptoms of Lyme.

Find a Physician. I’m not sure how doctors get listed on ALDF’s app, but when I pressed it, it provided me the name and contact information for a local infectious disease doctor.

Helpful Links. There are links to other helpful organizations that provide information on Lyme disease.

About the App. You guessed it, this section provides the background on the app.

The app as a whole is a pretty good reference tool for ticks and Lyme disease, especially if you have been bitten and aren’t sure what type of tick bit you, how long it has been there and how to remove it. At Mosquito Squad, we protect our clients against tick bites and Lyme disease with a combination of our barrier spray and tick tubes. Professional tick control will help fight off ticks before they can bite and infect you.

If you have questions regarding tick control on your property, please call your local Mosquito Squad office.

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Scientists discover the oldest known case of Lyme disease in Iceman

A new study of a 5,300 year old iceman found genetic material leading them to believe that the man had Lyme disease.

The body of what is now known as Otzi was discovered encased in ice in the Alps back in 1991. Since then, scientists have worked to discover as much as they can about him, his environment and the world 5,300 years ago through his body. Looking to learn more about him genetically, a sample was taken from Otzi’s hip bone and was tested. Along with learning about his appearance, researchers learned a lot about his possible health problems including heart disease and lactose intolerance. They also found evidence of borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme in the hip bone sample. More information on the study can be found on the International Business Times website.

“This is the oldest evidence of Lyme disease and proof that this infection was already present 5,000 years ago,” says lead researcher Carsten Pusch.

Until know, the earliest record of Lyme disease dated back to 1883 and was first diagnosed in the US in Lyme, CT in the ‘70s. In the last study by the CDC, there were over 20,000 confirmed cases in the United States in 2010.

Mosquito Squad kills ticks dead

Mosquito Squad kills ticks dead before they can bite and transmit Lyme disease

Lyme disease is transmitted by deer ticks when they take a blood meal. When it isn’t readily diagnosed, Lyme disease can be debilitating, causing severe joint pain and headaches. The most common symptoms are a bulls-eye shaped rash and fatigue. If you are ever bitten by a tick, make sure to place it in a ziplock bag in case it needs to be tested.

With this new information, the question remains: should it be Otzi disease?

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Tick Study Indicated High Risk of Lyme disease in the Northeast and Midwest

A recent study in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene focused on one of our hot topics here at Mosquito Squad: Lyme disease. Over 5300 tick nymphs were collected between 2004 and 2006 in the eastern half of the United States (37 states) and were studied to see if borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease) was present in the gut. The results were somewhat surprising.

Lyme disease present in the northeast and midwest of the United States

A recent study shows Lyme disease hot beds in the Northeast and Upper Midwest

Lyme disease was first found in Lyme, CT in 1975. Since then, the disease has been slowly spreading south. As you can see in the study’s map to the left, the study confirmed a common presence of Lyme disease from Maine to Northern Virginia with the eastern coast’s hot bed in the Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey area.

The United States has a second hot bed for Lyme in the Midwest, primarily in Wisconsin and Minnesota. What is interesting to note is the very low occurrence of Lyme between the two hot beds. The researchers noted in their discussion that even in areas where the Lyme risked is illustrated as low, it doesn’t mean that it does not exist and body checks should always be performed when spending time in a potential tick zone.

Lyme disease is a potentially debilitating illness that can have lifelong affects if not treated early. Symptoms include fatigue, chills, fever and headaches. It’s important that if you ever find a tick on you, to remove it safely (here are the CDC’s recommendations for removing a tick) and place it in a plastic bag in case you need to have it tested.

Mosquito Squad stops ticks dead in their tracks

Mosquito Squad stops ticks dead in their tracks

Mosquito Squad is happy to help fight the bite against ticks. If you live in an area where ticks are a problem, contact your local Squad and ask about our tick control program.

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Are you letting the bedbugs bite?

Dread Skeeter fights the Mosquito and Tick bites

Dread Skeeter fights the Mosquito and Tick bites

“Night, night sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite”. The sweet, innocent bedtime saying many of us say to our children when it is bedtime. The elusive bedbug however is not so innocent. During the 1990’s the bedbug made a comeback.  The resurgence of the bedbug can be attributed to several reasons. Shifts in pest management play a role as well as resistance to certain pesticides. During the last ten to twenty years international travel has become commonplace allowing the bedbugs to hitch a ride so to speak on our clothing and luggage. We, as a society have also let our guard down to these resilient little bugs by thinking that bedbugs are a thing of the past.

Common bedbugs , their proper name being  cimex lectularius, were thought to have originated in the Middle east in caves inhabited by bats and humans. Bedbugs were mentioned as far back as 400 BC in ancient Greece. Bedbugs were a serious problem during World War II, General MacArthur actually commented that bedbugs were the “greatest nuisance insect problem….at bases in the U.S.”

With the introduction of more effective pesticides during the 1940’s the bedbugs nearly disappeared completely in Western countries. Bedbugs are parasites that are usually no more than 1/5 of an inch in length. Bedbugs feed on blood of humans and other animals. Bedbugs are nocturnal and most often feed when people are asleep. An adult female bedbug can lay up to 500 eggs during her lifetime. When a bedbug feeds it injects a salivary secretion to the bite to discourage coagulation, the secretion can cause itching and swelling. Although bedbug bites are not known to carry any human blood-borne pathogens, the bites can be painful, and can cause distress. Scratching the bites can lead to secondary infections and some people have been shown to have allergic reactions to the bites. Bedbugs reside and lay their eggs in your furniture, the box springs and folds of your mattress, they can hide in the cracks of your hardwood floors, in your carpet, behind pictures, in your luggage and even behind baseboards and other places in your home.

Dread Skeeter from Mosquito Squad

Dread Skeeter from Mosquito Squad fights mosquito and tick bites

There are many ways to pick up bedbugs. One way is travel. Hotels, motels and resorts have a constant turnover of guests. You can bring them home unknowingly on and in your luggage and clothing. It is a common misconception that bedbugs thrive in filth, this is not true. Bedbugs can infest any type of dwelling. They can show up in luxury resorts as well as the cheaper “chain” hotels and motels. Bedbugs can also come into your home by way of infested furniture. Make sure any “second hand” furniture purchases from garage sales, consignment shops, antique shops and thrift store purchases are cleaned thoroughly before entering the home. Pets can bring the parasites into your home. People visiting from a source of infestation can also bring them into your home. People who live in nearby dwellings such as apartments and town homes can have the bedbugs come into their home by way of duct work if there are easy routes. Bedbugs are common with wild animals too, especially bats, rodents and birds. Bedbugs will often nest near animals that have also nested in a dwelling. A well fed bedbug can live anywhere from four to six months. A dormant bedbug can live without feeding for as much as 18 months. With the long span and capability of a dormant bedbug to lie dormant for that amount of time and emerge and begin to feed it is a good idea to make sure any items that you bring into your home and are unsure of their history should be inspected and thoroughly cleaned. An infestation of bed bugs can get out of control quickly with the number of eggs a female is capable of laying in her lifetime.

Now that you’re fully “grossed out” and probably itching just reading this article, you can fight the bedbug war. Detection of bedbugs is not as difficult as you may think. Even though these parasites are tiny, they still can be seen with the naked eye. They are experts at hiding however and are nocturnal and usually only come out at night. You can look for signs that you have an infestation by examining your mattress and bedding for any blood spots or brownish or reddish spots. These are called fecal spots. You can also sometimes identify an infestation by checking for evidence of their skins that have sloughed off during moulting. In severe cases sometimes a pungent odor is prevalent. This is a result of the oily liquid they emit. The most obvious of all the signs that you may have a bedbug infestation is the bite itself. The bites can be red and blotchy or welt like. Early detection is always a plus in helping control an infestation.

Knowledge is always power with the treatment of bedbugs. The best course of action once you have determined you have an infestation is to contact a professional. Remember that the bed is usually ground zero (hence the name), but it is not the only place they reside. It is a good idea to eliminate clutter around your home. Anything you deem is infected and decide to discard should be sealed and labeled so no one else will become infected. Mattresses and box springs that are being disposed of should also be labeled and sealed in the same manner for safe disposal.  Treatment will depend on how serious the infestation is and the range of action taken by the  professional could range from industrial vacuuming to heat treatments , encasement of  mattresses in plastic cover and /or the application of pesticides . Follow up visits may be necessary by your professional to ensure the problem is taken care of.

Like mosquito and tick bites, it’s good to be vigilant and take some time to inspect your bites. While bed bug bites are annoying and cause frustration and concern, at least they aren’t known to carry disease like mosquito and tick bites.

Remember, mosquito and tick bites can be prevented before they happen and in that case, prevention is the best cure. Have your yard sprayed on a regular basis during the spring, summer and early fall season. You can also take extra precautions against ticks by having an expert lay a product called tick tubes which animals will take back to their breeding and sleeping grounds. Click here to read more about tick tubes.

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Dogs and cats can get lyme disease too – know the signs

At first glance, this picture sets a gorgeous scene of a beautiful white stallion grazing in a large pasture while deer assemble peacefully at the other end of the pasture. At second glance, it looks like the deer are staking out the horse.

3 deer and white horse

At second glance, it looks like these deer are stalking this horse and the horse is looking for escape.

I almost feel guilty that I’ve become so jaded about deer. I took this other picture of an adorable baby deer and unconsciously labeled it Bambi has ticks.

Bambi has ticks

Even baby deer can be breeding grounds for disease carrying ticks

Unfortunately for deer, they are not only the feeding ground for ticks that could carry Lyme Disease but they also now have the bad rap of the animals that spread these disease carrying blood suckers into our yards to seek their next blood meal from the furry and non-furry warm-blooded family members that hang out in and around our house.

So do the deer give the Lyme disease to the ticks or do the ticks give the Lyme disease to the deer? It’s the ticks that carry the Lyme disease and they get it by feeding on mice at earlier stages of their lifespan. The ticks then feed on deer for their blood meal and while they’re there they mate and lay hundreds or thousands of eggs that the deer are an unwitting vehicle for.

Back to our pets. Yes, our pets can and do get Lyme Disease. In addition to Lyme Disease, your dog can also get Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Babesiosis. And, unfortunately, according to dogsandticks.com our dogs are 50 to 100 times more likely than humans to come in contact with disease-carrying ticks because of  their furry coats, proximity to the ground and love of exploration.

What are the symptoms to watch for? Also according to dogsandticks.com, here are the symptoms to look for.

To watch out for Canine Lyme Disease, watch for…

  • Recurrent arthritis/lameness that lasts 3–4 days, sometimes accompanied by loss of appetite and depression
  • Reluctance to move or a stiff, painful gait
  • Swollen joints that are warm to the touch
  • Pain in the legs or throughout the body
  • Fever, fatigue and swollen lymph nodes

To watch out for Canine Ehrlichiosis

  • Fever
  • Runny eyes and nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Weight loss
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Eye disease
  • Retinal bleeding
  • Spontaneous nose bleeds
  • Bruising (petechiae) on gums and belly
  • Swelling of limbs

If your dog is displaying these symptoms, how long should you wait before consulting a veterinarian? As an experienced dog owner, you probably know that some of these symptoms will come and go over time. But early treatment is the best way to prevent long-term ongoing residual sickness from these diseases. As always, use your best judgment as an owner.

Here is a great article about lyme disease, tick feeding and life cycles and other in-depth information.

The best way to protect you, your family, and your pets is to protect your yard from ticks. Mosquito Squad has both a barrier spray program that kills ticks in your yard as well as a tick tube program that attacks the source of the problem.

Read this article about Tick Tubes and how they work.

For more information, contact a Mosquito Squad location near you.

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