Posts Tagged ‘Lyme Disease’

Loudon County, VA Declares Lyme Disease An Epidemic, Encourages Home Owners To Spray Their Yards

April 24, 2012

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.


Experts Predict Surge in Lyme Disease in Northeast

March 21, 2012

News articles published on March 20, 2012 warn that the mild winter will lead to a spike in Lyme Disease in the northeast.   In a previous post, we pointed out that the tick population is expected to be extremely high in 2012 because the winter has been so warm.  In fact, in March 2012 we have heard several people talking about several ticks in their yards.  I even had a tick on me while standing on a customer’s deck while I treated for stink bugs.  Thanks to the customer for pulling it off my back.  However, this article tells us that the they expect the mouse population to decrease this spring, causing the nymph ticks that normally feed on mice to seek other sources for their blood meal.  Interesting to note that the have noticed a correlation between the number of acorns and the white-footed mouse population.  White-footed mice typically feed on acorns.  The researches noticed a decrease in the acorns, a part of a normal bust and boom cycle, and predict the mouse population will decrease due to the lack of food for that species.

The story reports:  ”

Mice are the preferred host for black-legged ticks, which transmit Lyme  disease. Black-legged ticks need a bloodmeal at three different stages — as  larvae, as nymphs and as adults. As of the spring, the larval ticks that fed on  2011’s large mouse population will be looking for their nymphal meal.

“This spring, there will be a lot of Borrelia burgdorferi-infected  black-legged ticks in our forests looking for a blood meal. And instead of  finding a white-footed mouse, they are going to find other mammals — like us,”  Ostfeld added.”

This creates an interesting dynamic.  Mice have one of their main food sources decrease, which will cause their population to decrease.  Meanwhile, the mild winter is creating a large population of nymph ticks, which will need to find other mammals to feed on.

According to the Centers for Disease Control homeowners should “Consider using a professional pesticide company to apply pesticides at your home” to protect from ticks in your yard.

Role Birds Play in Transmitting Lyme Disease

February 27, 2012

In a previous post, we mentioned that Maryland is one of the states where residents are at a high risk of getting Lyme Disease.  A 2009 study done at Yale University and reported by concludes that birds help to spread the Lyme Disease bacteria.  How does this happen?  Ticks infected with Lyme Disease–Yale concludes that at least 20% of all deer ticks carry the Lyme Disease bacteria–feed on birds that walk on the ground. As the birds scavage for food, ticks crawl on and bite them.  The birds then migrate to other areas of the country where the tick falls off ready to spread the disease to other mammals. reports:  “The researchers found that I. scapularis (black-legged ticks) most consistently parasitizes bird species such as thrushes, brown thrashers, wrens and wood warblers….

Lyme disease can cause severe health problems, including arthritis, nervous system abnormalities and irregular heart rhythm. It is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States, with the number of reported human infections doubling between 1992 and 2006.”

The Yale 2009 findings corroborate findings made in 1989 by other researchers in a published article entitled Lyme Disease and Migrating Birds  in the Saint Croix River Valley, Weisbrod and Johnson, Appl. Environ. Microbiology, 1989, 55(8) 1921-1924. In that study the authors contend that 22.4% of the deer ticks they encountered were infected with Borrelia Burgdorferia, the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease.  They conclude their article by saying “Our data corroborate previous observations that migratory birds are important agents in the dispersal of tick-borne diseases (13, 14, 24) and support the suggestion (2, 7) that the widespread distribution of B. burgdo.feri is a function of dispersal by tick-infested birds.” points out that deer play a role in keeping the tick population alive, but not in spreading the disease.  Most people do not know that White-tailed deer have blood that is immune to the Lyme Disease bacteria.  That means deer do not spread the  disease, but they do provide a blood meal for deer ticks and help their population grow.

In short, we need to be aware that Lyme Disease can be easily found anywhere where birds, deer, or other wildlife can be found.

Maryland Residents are at High Risk of Lyme Disease

February 7, 2012

Living in Frederick, MD, and owning a pest control company that offers to kill ticks that carry Lyme Disease, we have heard multiple stories about people getting Lyme Disease in the area.  We meet customers who appear to be permanently disabled because of the Lyme Disease that infected them.  Many experts hypothesize that most people get Lyme Disease in their own backyard and that treating your yard in the spring and fall will go a long way to eliminating deer ticks in your yard.  A story published in USAtoday on February 3, 2012 reveals that researchers at Yale University have concluded that Maryland is among the states with the highest risk of Lyme Disease.   The researchers canvassed large areas of the country from 2004 to 2007.  According to the article the researchers map shows “a clear risk of Lyme disease across much of the Northeast, from Maine to northern Virginia. Researchers also identified a distinct high-risk region in the upper Midwest, including most of Wisconsin, northern Minnesota and a sliver of northern Illinois.”

Other interesting findings include:  “More than 90 percent of those cases were in 12 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. (emphasis added)”; and “About 1 in 5 ticks collected were infected — more than researchers expected — and that percentage was fairly constant across geographic areas, she said. Researchers had expected the infection rate to vary. (emphasis added)”   This study is an important contribution to understanding where Lyme Disease was the biggest threat to public health in 2004-2007, and is and will be a threat in the future.   The lead researcher indicates that the places that were at high risk would not change, except that places that were considered emerging threats may have increased their risk.  People who are infected by  a Lyme Disease infected tick, and aren’t treated timely, “can develop arthritis, meningitis and some other serious illnesses.”

Lyme Disease is on the Increase in Washington County, MD

July 24, 2010

A recent article in the Frederick News Post warns its readers that Lyme Disease is reporteed to be increasing in Washington County, MD.  This was no surprise to me because I have spoken with so many people in Maryland who have Lyme Disease or know someone with Lyme Disease.  One of my customers told me he works in an Emergency Room in Hagerstown and they see Lyme Disease every day.  Worse, the Centers for Disease Control readily acknowledges that the vast majority of patients with Lyme Disease go undiagnosed.  Therefore, the actual number of cases is far higher than the reported cases. 

Since deer ticks get blood meals on field mice, squirrels, rabbits, and larger animals like deer, you should expect they will be found any place those animals might be.   

The article says that mid-summer is a peak time for tick activity.  The only way to prevent Lyme Disease is to limit exposure to ticks.  In my opinion, the best way to limit that exposure is to exterminate the ticks.  Other steps should also be taken:  1) wear long pants that are tucked into your boots or socks, 2) where white clothing so you can see the ticks coming on you, 3) try to avoid places with high grass or wooded areas, 4) check children for ticks frequently. 

Lyme Disease can be extremely serious, causing severe joint distress, fatigue, and other life changing conditions, especially if it is not diagnosed.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

July 13, 2010

We were just hired by a client living outside Frederick, MD who reported that he had Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever last year while living in Maryland.  I have previously blogged about Lyme Disease being relatively common in Maryland. 

The Centers for Disease Control states that “In the last 50 years, approximately 250-1200 cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever have been reported annually, although it is likely that many more cases go unreported.”  Moreover, “over half of Rocky Mountain spotted fever infections are reported from the south-Atlantic region of the United States (Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida).”  Even though the disease was first diagnosed in the Rocky Mountains, only 3% of cases occur there. 

The CDC also states “The frequency of reported cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever is highest among males, Caucasians, and children. Two-thirds of the Rocky Mountain spotted fever cases occur in children under the age of 15 years, with the peak age being 5 to 9 years old. Individuals with frequent exposure to dogs and who reside near wooded areas or areas with high grass may also be at increased risk of infection.”   While the disease is transmitted by ticks, the CDC states that 60% of infected people report a tick bite or being in tick infested areas.  It should be noted that ticks are often small and their bite can go undetected. 

The CDC informs us that the best way to prevent tick-borne diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme Disease is to limit exposure to ticks, including through tick control efforts.  You should wear light clothing, tuck your socks into your pants, and check yourself and your children for ticks when visiting areas where ticks are known to be.

History of Lyme Disease

July 13, 2010

I recently read this article about Lyme Disease.  It chronicles one woman’s journey after discovering she had been diagnosed with Lyme disease.  The article is in Yankee Magazine.  To read the article, click here.   I think this article is an excellent resource for anyone interested in learning more about the disease.  It presents a theory about the origin of Lyme in the United States that differs from some other theories I have heard.  In this article, the author talks about Lyme being traced, allegedly, to a US biological factory near Long Island, NY.  The article suggests that Lyme originated there and was spread through the Atlantic Flyway by birds to areas like Lyme, Connecticut, the town the disease is named after.  In other sources, I have read that Lyme disease is believed to have existed prior to its approxiamtely 1975 discovery date in Lyme.  To learn about that theory, I would suggest watching a movie called Under Our Skin.   The article does a good job of explaining the political controversy around this disease.  Many doctors are afraid to diagnose the disease, but one thing is clear deer ticks are responsible for transmitting the corkscrew shaped bacteria to humans. 

One thing is clear, you want to stay away from this disease.   The article suggests that an island in New England reduced its Lyme disease by completely eliminating its deer population.  This would make it clear that if you live near deer, you are at risk of being infected.

Ticks in The City

July 5, 2010

I had a woman who became a client contact me the other day.  She told me that a neighbor had spoken highly of our service.  In addition to the Asian Tiger mosquitoes in her yard, she had recently found two ticks in her swimming pool.   She lives in Downtown Frederick on Upper College Terrace.  This is a city neighborhood, not in the country.  I have previously spoken with somebody near her, who had reported a tick being on her.  They do not live in the country.  This is an illustration of how large the tick population is in Frederick, MD and surrounding areas.  They are in the city.  They can travel on any kind of animal or human and end up in back yards.  Many experts estimate that 70% of the people who get Lyme Disease contracted the disease in their own backyard or within 100 feet of their house.

Children at Greatest Risk of Lyme Disease

June 17, 2010

I found this interesting article in the online version of the Gazette (Frederick County, MD). 

 “Why Kids are at Higher Risk for Lyme Disease, and What You Can Do to Prevent It

By Christine Miller Ford

Because Lyme disease can leave a previously healthy person with debilitating problems for years, experts say the best course of action is to prevent getting it in the first place.

The disease is spread when an infected tick attaches to a person. Initially, it can cause symptoms such as a fever, fatigue and achiness that mimic a standard viral infection. Sometimes, a bull’s-eye-shaped rash will also appear.

If untreated, Lyme disease can lead to joint pain, arthritis, mood and memory problems, neurological problems and other serious complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

The article points out that children have a greater risk of getting Lyme disease becuase they play outdoors and roll around on the ground, parents sometimes place playsets near the edge of the lawn next to higher grass, and because ticks are small and hard to detect. 

To reduce the risk of Lyme disease, the article suggests “When walking through the woods or in tall grass, children should stay on the trails and should not roll or play in the leaves on the ground.”  I would add that parents should consider having their yard treated to kill any ticks that are present.  

To read the rest of the article click here.

Ticks in The City of Frederick

May 25, 2010

I was out working in the area just below Hood College in Frederick, MD.  We met a woman who lives on West College Terrace between Hood College and Baker Park.  She told us that just the day before she had a tick on her.  She pointed out that she does not exactly live in the country and had not been out of her yard.  Many people think that ticks are just in the country, but the reality is that ticks go where blood meals take them.  If a field mouse, squirrel or other small animal can get into your yard or house it can take a tick with it.  Not only is it unpleasant to find a blood sucking insect on you, but in this case they are causing a rapid spread of Lyme disease in the Frederick county area.