Posts Tagged tick borne illness

New Tick-Borne Disease Found in Kansas

This past summer a Kansas man was infected with a fast-moving illness that took his life after 10 days in the hospital. Otherwise a healthy man, doctors tried treating him with a series of antibiotics that unfortunately didn’t work. After much research, a new microbe has been found and named the Bourbon virus.

Tick BiteNo, this virus has nothing to do with the Bourbon drink, but instead is named after the county in which the only known victim lived. The virus was discovered by researchers with the Centers for Disease Control. It’s believed that the male farmer was infected through the bite of an infected tick while spending time outdoors.

When the man fell ill, the illness got serious very quickly. The Bourbon virus can cause fever, muscle ache, loss or appetite and can lead to lung and kidney failure. Because it is a virus and not a bacteria, antibiotics didn’t help fight the disease.

The patient was tested for tick-borne illnesses but the tests came up negative.

Thee are many more studies that need to be done to get a clear understanding of the Bourbon virus as this is the first known case. Dr. Dana Hawkinson with the University of Kansas Hospital explains: “we have to assume this has been around for some time, and we haven’t been able to diagnose it. We suspect there have been milder cases and people have recovered from them, but we don’t have a lot of information.” (Source.)

Tick-borne diseases can be very serious if not diagnosed and treated properly. If you spend time outdoors in the months ticks are known to be active, it’s important to thoroughly check your body for ticks. If you see one, remove it and place in a plastic bag in case you feel it needs to be tested. If you start to feel sick or experiencing any known symptoms, go to a doctor.

At Mosquito Squad, we protect our clients from the nuisance and dangers of ticks with our tick treatments for the yard. We use a combination of our barrier spray and tick tubes to attack the ticks at different stages of their lifecycle, greatly reducing their opportunity to infect homeowners.

If you have questions on tick control for your yard, please contact your local Mosquito Squad office.

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Another Tick-Borne Illness on the Rise

Many people are familiar with the most common tick-borne disease: Lyme, but another has been on the rise: anaplasmosis.

Anaplasmosis was first found in humans in the mid-1990s. States started to report cases in 1999 and ever since then it has been on a steady increase.  While the numbers still remain relatively low nationwide, it’s becoming more common in states with large black-legged tick populations.

Anaplasmosis is transmitted through the bite of an infected black-legged or deer tick. While the symptoms are flulike with the most common being fever, chills and headaches, it actually affects the body’s white blood cells and can be quite dangerous. White blood cells help combat illness in the body, so if the number is decreased, the body can’t fight other infections.

David Letterman, host of The Late Show, suffered from anaplasmosis in 2009 after being bitten by a tick while spending the night outside. He told his audience that it made him feel worse than the heart surgery he had in past.

Mosquito Squad stops ticks dead in their tracksWhen diagnosed, anaplasmosis is treated with antibiotics, but one of every 200 cases is fatal.

As spring returns and temperatures rise, we all like to spend more time outdoors. Ticks will become quite active again soon, which means we need increase our awareness and vigilance.

Mosquito Squad offers tick control services for the home through our barrier spray and tick tube applications. For anyone who is spending time outdoors, especially in areas where ticks are known to live, please use these tips:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants. Lighter colored clothing will make it easier to see the ticks
  • Conduct a full body check after coming indoors. Use a mirror or ask someone to help check those hard to see areas
  • Place clothes in the dryer, on high heat to eliminate any ticks that remain on your clothing.
  • Promptly remove any ticks that have attached to you using tweezers.

If you have questions regarding tick control, please contact your local Mosquito Squad office.

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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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Vermont Launches Tick Tracking Website to Protect Population

A few weeks ago we posted about a CDC study estimating that Lyme disease is a much larger problem than the confirmed cases show. In 2011, there were over 24,000 confirmed cases, with 96% of them happening in just 13 states, Vermont being one of them. The Vermont Health Department is fighting the bite by offering a new tick tracking website.

Small tick on finger

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

Vermont reported 500 cases of Lyme disease in 2011 and just over 350 last year. To help educate the public on tick activity, they launched a website allowing the public to report where they’ve noticed tick activity, “’Once you report ticks in your area, it shows up on a map so that everyone can know where they might want to take extra precautions when spending time outdoors,’ said the Health Department’s Erica Berl, an infectious disease epidemiologist. ‘It’s not too late to report – adult ticks are most active in the spring and fall.” Source.

The website, found at http://webmail.vdh.state.vt.us/vttracking/TickTracker/TickTracker.html, displays the different areas of tick activity on a map of the state. Small tick images are color coded bases on the type of tick reported. Hovering over the tick image will initiate a pop up that provides details on the report including, location, date, number of ticks found, how it was observed (on clothing, pet, etc) and a general comments field. One report included “Lyme positive” which must have come from someone who had recently been diagnosed. Looking at the map, a resident can easily identify a few pockets where numerous deer ticks (Lyme carrying ticks) have been reported.

The page also links to a “Be Tick Smart” guide that shows images of the different tick species, Lyme disease information, an illustration on how to remove a tick, and other handy information.

The tick tracking website is a great way to educate and increase tick awareness, especially in a state that has a large number of tick-borne illness reports each year.

Tick Bite

Engorged tick

Lyme disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected deer tick. Here are some helpful tips to protect against tick bites and Lyme disease:

  • If you have seen ticks on your property, reach out to a professional tick control company like Mosquito Squad. We will get to the ticks, before they get to you.
  • When spending time outdoors in unprotected areas, wear light colored pants and long sleeved shirts. Loose clothing is harder to bite through, but ticks are also easier to see on light colors than dark.
  • Do a full body tick check after coming inside any time you’ve spent time outdoors, even if you did wear pants and long sleeves. Ticks are sly pests and can weasel their way to your skin if given the chance. Be sure to check areas like your armpits and behind your knees.
  • If you have been bitten by a tick, remove it properly with tweezers (here’s a guide from the CDC) and put it in a plastic baggie if possible. Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose because of its flulike symptoms, so having the tick itself makes it easier. The ticks can be tested for the Lyme bacteria.

If you’ve been bitten by a blacklegged (deer) tick, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have Lyme. Not all deer ticks carry the disease. Also, if you are sure that the tick has been embedded in you less than 36 hours, your chances of having Lyme are slimmer. The key is to be observant and take note of any symptoms you may start to display including fatigue, joint pain or the telltale bull’s-eye rash.

If you have any questions on tick control for your yard, please contact your local Mosquito Squad office.

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Tick Killing Robot to Begin Trials Next Summer

I must admit that I am afraid of ticks (blame it on the job). The idea of a bug burrowing its head into my skin has always freaked me out. Naturally when I saw an article come across my computer screen that said “Tick Killing Robot,” I was intrigued.

Ticks Populations increaseWhen engineering professor, Jim Squire’s daughter was bitten by a tick, he began to look for ways to rid specific areas of the pest. He worked with his colleague David Livingston and tick expert Daniel Sonenshine to create a robot that can kill ticks. Sonenshine suggested that instead of having the robot seek out tick habitats it would be much easier to attract the ticks to the robot.

The idea behind the robot is pretty simple. Ticks are attracted to carbon dioxide. Sonenshine, Livingston and Squire laid tubing that emits carbon dioxide. After the tubing has been able to give off carbon dioxide for 15 minutes, the robot follows the tubing, dragging a piece of cloth behind it that has been treated with a pesticide. The ticks will attach to the cloth, killing them.

Honestly, the idea seemed so simple to me that I didn’t think that it could work, but very early studies look promising. In one lab test, the environment was seeded with 50 ticks. The robot was able to lure in and kill 45 of them on the first swipe. As Livingston says, “we were shocked. We didn’t expect it to be that efficient.”

Results continue to look positive, even after the studies move outdoors. The robot killed almost 100% of the seeded ticks within the designated test area and the area stayed clear of ticks for nearly 18 hours. The next step is to test the robot on residential properties, which will begin next summer. “We’re not eradicating ticks by any means,” says Livingston. “We’re just very surgically eliminating them from a particular area. Once we clean the yard, how long before they come back? If we can keep it clean for a number of days, then it’s going to be a viable product. If they come back overnight, not so much.” Source.

Because of the pesticide applied to the cloth behind the robot, it has to be handled by a licensed professional. We at Mosquito Squad will be paying close attention to the tick killing robot to see if it can outperform our current tick control treatments and if it makes sense to add to our service.

We shared the professors concern about ticks. There are too many species that transmit dangerous disease to humans. Currently, our professional tick control consists of a barrier spray and ticks tubes. Our mosquito barrier spray eliminates adult ticks on contact and will cut down on a property’s tick population greatly. Additionally, for those clients that are worried about ticks, we place tick tubes around their property. The tubes are filled with treated cotton. That cotton attracts mice that  use it for bedding material. Ticks usually get their first blood meal from mice, so by treating their bedding, we are treating their skin (much like a topical dog treatment), killing the ticks (it won’t kill the mice).

If you have questions on ways to get rid of the ticks on your property, please reach out to your local Mosquito Squad office.

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Lyme Disease Awareness Month is in Full Swing

May not only brings spring flowers, but also Lyme Disease Awareness Month, a month that is near and dear to Dread Skeeter and the rest of the Mosquito Squad team.

Mosquito Squad stops ticks dead in their tracksLyme disease is an illness that affects a large portion of the east coast. Take the quiz below to test your knowledge of Lyme disease (the answers are the bottom of the post).

1)      What is Lyme disease?

  1. A disease that can affect the heart
  2. A topical rash that appears on the body
  3. A disease that can affect the body’s neurological functions
  4. A flu-like virus that can cause fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and join aches as well as swollen lymph nodes.
  5. All of the above

2)      How is Lyme disease contracted?

  1. By drinking contaminated water
  2. Via improperly cooked food
  3. Through spiders carrying the disease
  4. Via the bite of an infected tick
  5. Via the saliva of an infected dog

3)      In what parts of the country is Lyme disease most prevalent?

  1. East Coast
  2. Midwest
  3. Northeast
  4. South
  5. Southeast
  6. Southwest
  7. West Coast

4)      Approximately how many Americans have been diagnosed with Lyme disease since the CDC because tracking cases in 2002?

  1. 100,000
  2. 275,000
  3. 535,000
  4. 746,000

5)      How can homeowners reduce exposure to Lyme disease?

  1. Utilize plants and shrubs that don’t attract deer
  2. Keep tall grasses away from the home entrance and edges of the lawn
  3. Create a barrier between wooded areas and entertainment/play areas
  4. Keep the yard clean and free of debris
  5. Perform a daily tick check
  6. Treat with a barrier spray
  7. All of the above

6)      Which of the following notable Americans has been treated for Lyme disease?

  1. George W. Bush
  2. Lady Gaga
  3. Tiger Woods
  4. Hilary Clinton
  5. Rosie O’Donnell

7)      In what season is one more likely to contract Lyme disease?

  1. Spring
  2. Summer
  3. Winter
  4. Fall
  5. all

Answers:             1-5, all of the above

2- 4, via the bite of an infected tick

3 – 2 & 3 Midwest and Northeast

4 – 2, more than 275,000 Americans have been diagnosed with the disease since 2002

5 –  7, all of the above

6 – 1, George W. Bush (treated in 2006)

7 – 1 & 2, infected ticks can bite at any time, but late spring and early summer is considered the most likely time to contract the disease

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East Stroudsburg University Selling Tick Testing Kit

Vector-borne diseases, like Lyme disease and West Nile, have been on the rise in recent years. When it comes to tick bites, we at Mosquito Squad suggest people remove ticks promptly and place them in a plastic bag in case it needs to be tested. East Stroudsburg University (ESU) in Pennsylvania is taking it one step further and selling tick testing kits that people can get before a tick bite happens. Once bitten, the kit tells you how to remove the tick properly and offers to test the tick for you.

The testing kit, called Lyme-Aid, is now being sold online at http://www.lymeaidkit.com/. It sells for $5.99 and includes a tick remover, alcohol wipes, specimen bag and forms and preaddressed envelope to the ESU testing center. An additional fee of $39.95 is due for testing.

Small tick on finger

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

ESU researchers see this as a win-win for both the general public and East Stroudsburg University. Lyme disease is often misdiagnosed and sometimes the bacterium stays in the body for months before the patient displays any symptoms. With Lyme-Aid, a person can send a tick in for testing before any symptoms may present themselves. If the test comes back positive, the patient can decide whether or not to seek treatment from their doctor.

The benefit for ESU is not only to help the general public with efficient testing, but also with research. By receiving samples directly from the field, ESU can effectively study the spread of Lyme disease through testing deer ticks. They hope to get tick tests from across the country to gain more knowledge.

Melissa Shaw, co-founder of Lyme-Aid explains that it’s “main purpose is to educate the community about the disease. It was developed with the collaboration of about 20 students over a two-year period.” Source.

2012 brought a rise in the number of ticks this spring and an increase in the number of confirmed Lyme disease cases. This year was the first time that I, my husband and my dog all had ticks on us at one time or another and we don’t even spend time in places where ticks harbor. At Mosquito Squad, we offer tick control through barrier sprays and tick tubes, but it doesn’t mean that you will never get a tick bite, especially if you spend time outdoors at athletic events, hiking and more. Lyme-Aid kits would be great to have handy just in case you find a tick on you. It’s a step towards being more proactive about Lyme.

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