Loudon County, VA, neighboring Frederick County, MD has declared Lyme disease to be epidemic and launched a 10 point plan to reduce the cases of Lyme Disease in the county. According to an April 9, 2012 report on Fox 5 DC, “There’s also going to be a significant awareness campaign and we want to encourage private homeowners to spray their own property to go after the ticks,’ Supervisor Ken Reid says.”
The news story describes how the tick-borne disease has impacted its victims.
“”’I taught kindergarten, but when it effected my voice, I couldn’t teach anymore,’ Benalayat says.
Speaking is difficult for her now, and everyday life focuses on treating her Lyme Disease.
‘I give myself I-V medicine and that takes an hour. I also take 30 pills every day as well’” Benalayat says.
Linda McGee was diagnosed with Lyme 8 years ago, and two of her three children have it too. Her family has paid more than $12,000 out of their pockets to treat her.
‘Insurance doesn’t cover much, and the I-V treatment was a thousand dollars a week back then,’ McGee says.
So they had to make a choice, college tuition or her intravenous antibiotic treatment. They sent their daughter off to college, and then in February, she relapsed.
‘I had some problems, and the Lyme went to my heart,’ McGee says.”
Deer ticks have a two-year life cycle and require a blood meal in order to molt from one stage to another. Typically, the nymph ticks look for a blood meal in the spring. Deer ticks typically look for their first blood meal from small animals, including white-footed mice, squirrels, chipmunks, and even foraging birds, and later blood meals from large mammals (like humans and deer). Experts have predicted that the risk of contracting Lyme disease is extremely high this year. Several factors play into this. First, the ticks, and other insects, were able to survive the mild winter better than they would in a harshly cold winter. Second, oak trees are producing fewer acorns this year. Researchers indicate that white-footed mice feed on acorns and their population goes up and down depending on the acorn production. Less mice means the ticks must look for another source for their blood meal.
Researchers at Yale University found that throughout the entire northeast from Connecticut to Maryland 1 in 5 ticks carried the bacteria that spread Lyme disease. Other studies have found that same ratio.
What can you do to protect yourself? Mosquito Squad has prepared the 6 Cs to help:
1. 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 “adult” 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.