Posts Tagged deer ticks

Enjoying the Fall? Don’t Forget About Ticks

Fall is my favorite season. The beautiful color changes of the leaves and the comfortable temperatures call me to the outdoors. From hiking and apple picking to hunting and outdoor festivals, there is always something to do outdoors in the autumn months. As you enjoy the fall, we at Mosquito Squad urge you to be aware that those dangerous pests are still out and active.

Small tick on finger

The tick is a vector of many illnesses and disease, so small yet so dangerous.

A common misconception is that ticks aren’t active in the fall. And while ticks do become less active as the weather turns cooler, they are known to bite and transmit disease through late October (later in some areas of the country).

Ticks are found all over the United States, with the black-legged species (or deer tick) transmitting the majority of tick-borne illnesses, mainly Lyme disease. If you are spending time outdoors this fall, and we hope you are, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Wear long sleeved, loose shirts and pants in a light color. Hunters may need to wear camouflage, but the majority of us can decrease our chances of getting bit by a tick just by wearing lighting colored clothing and being aware. Ticks are both small and dark. You may not notice the small fleck that is a tick nymph on a black jacket, for instance, but you may see it on a light blue shirt.

Wipe off your clothing before going inside. This may sound odd, but it is important if you’ve spent time outdoors in an area where ticks may be active. Ticks are incredibly resilient and can live in a dormant state for close to a year’s time. What does that mean exactly? If you are wearing a jacket, put it through the wash and then into a drawer for next season, a tick could still be alive on that jacket and ready to bite next year.

Hot water is your friend when it comes to ticks. Due to their resiliency, ticks can be difficult to kill. When laundering clothes that you’ve worn outside, wash and dry on the hottest settings. Ticks can survive through the laundry, but are less likely to with hot water and air.

Apply a repellent to your exposed skin and clothing. At Mosquito Squad, we provide our clients with effective tick control on their properties, but that can’t protect them when they leave their yards.  Applying a repellent will keep the ticks away.

And, as always, do a full body tick check after coming inside. Ticks are small little buggers and can make their way up a pant leg or sleeve pretty easily without being noticed. It’s good practice to do a thorough tick check any time you have spent time outdoors. If you do have a tick on you, remove it promptly and place it in a plastic bag in case it needs to be tested for Lyme later on.

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Do All Ticks Carry Lyme disease?

As Lyme disease Awareness Month winds down, the tick population is out and active. Just this past weekend I was working in the yard with my husband when he noticed a tick on his shirt. Lucky for us, we were able to see it easily on his white long-sleeved shirt (yes, I made him wear long sleeves). Had he had dark colors or a T-shirt on we may not have seen it until it had already attached. Of course, this tick encounter came up at a barbecue later that night and I was surprised to hear how little people know about both ticks and Lyme disease. Since it’s almost June and will no longer be Lyme disease Awareness month, let’s address some commonly asked questions…

Do all ticks carry Lyme disease? No, there are many species of ticks, but only the blacklegged, or deer, ticks carry Lyme disease and only 1 in 4 or 5 deer ticks carry Lyme.

Tick Bite

Engorged tick

How can I distinguish a deer tick from another type of tick? Deer ticks have black legs (hence the name blacklegged tick). When a deer tick hasn’t had a blood meal, its back is most commonly black and brown, however, when it is engorged, the body turns a grayish blue color.

Are there signs that there are ticks in my area? The most obvious way to tell if there are deer ticks in your area are to see if you have an active deer population. Deer are the most common transportation method for deer ticks. Anywhere you have deer, you will find ticks.

What are the best ways to avoid tick bites and Lyme disease? Anyone who spends time outdoors has the opportunity to be bitten by a tick, but there are things you can do to minimize your risk. Wearing lose, light colored clothing will make ticks easier to spot. Make sure to do a thorough tick check after spending time outdoors, paying particular attention to the dark, hard to reach areas that ticks like to hide and attach. This includes your armpits, behind the knee and the groin. According to most sources, a tick has to be attached for at least 24 hours to transmit Lyme disease.

Does a bull’s-eye rash develop in all cases of Lyme? No, not all people with Lyme disease have the bull’s-eye rash, but the majority do. Between 80-90% of people with Lyme do have some form of the rash, but sometimes they can’t see it depending on where the tick bite happened. The rash will center around the tick bite. Other symptoms of Lyme are joint pain, fatigue, headaches and fever.

Is Lyme disease easily treated? When Lyme is diagnosed early it is easily treated with antibiotics. About 10-20% of cases develop chronic Lyme disease which is more difficult to treat. The earlier it can be diagnosed, the less likely you are to have long term effects of Lyme.

How do I remove an attached tick? Despite the many myths involving burning and suffocating ticks, the best way to remove a tick is with tweezers. Grab the tick with the tweezers as close to your body as possible and pull out straight, making sure that the entire head is removed. Ticks have beak-like mouths so it may be difficult to pull it off. After removing the tick, place it in a plastic bag in case it needs to be tested by the doctor and wash the tick bite out with soap and water.

Are there things I can do in my yard to avoid ticks and minimize my chance of getting Lyme? Yes, at Mosquito Squad we recommend the 6 Cs of tick control.

  1. Mosquito Squad kills ticks dead

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

    Clear out. Reduce your tick exposure by clearing out areas where lawn and tree debris gathers. Ticks thrive in moist, shady areas and tend to die in sunny, dry areas. Locate compost piles away from play areas or high traffic. Separate them with wood chips or gravel. Don’t position playground equipment, decks and patios near treed areas.

  2. Clean. Eliminate leaf litter and brush by cleaning it up around the house and lawn edges, mow tall grasses and keep your lawn short.
  3. Choose plants. Select plants and shrubs that are not attractive to deer and/or install physical barriers to keep deer out of your yard. Check with your local nursery to determine the best choices for your area.
  4. Check hiding places. Know tick hiding places and check them frequently. Fences, brick walls and patio retaining walls are popular hiding places.
  5. Care for family pets. Family pets can suffer from tick-borne disease and also carry infected ticks into the home. Talk to your veterinarian about using tick collars and sprays. As with all pest control products, be sure to follow directions carefully.
  6. Call the pros. Professionals utilize both barrier sprays that can kill live ticks on the spot as well as “tick tubes.” Strategically placed, “tick tubes” prompt field mice to incorporate tick-killing material in their bedding, effectively eliminating hundreds of tick nymphs found in each mouse nest.

When it comes to treatment, do not hesitate to reach out to your local Mosquito Squad office. Not only do our tick treatments for the yard include tick tubes, but also our barrier spray. Our barrier spray will adult ticks on contact before they bite you and your family.

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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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