Archive for ‘Ticks and Lyme Disease’

July 26, 2015

When Are You Most at Risk for Lyme Disease in Montgomery County?

The life cycle of ticks is a bit of a confusing subject and affects the risk for Lyme Disease in humans greatly. Understanding the life cycle of the deer tick is very helpful in remembering when to be most vigilant in your tick control and Lyme Disease prevention measures.

The Deer-tick’s 2-year life cycle

Adult female deer ticks begin laying their eggs in mid to late May. They usually lay 1,500 to 3,000 eggs at a time. The eggs hatch in late July or early August making the deer tick larvae most active in August. In August and September the larva tick will take their first blood meal from a host, usually a small rodent or bird.

The larvae molt over the winter/early spring and by May they have entered the nymph (teenage) phase of life. Nymph ticks remain active from May – July seeking out their second blood meal so that they can become an adult tick. By fall nymph ticks molt into adults. Engorged adult female deer ticks will survive the winter in leafy underbrush and emerge in the spring to lay their eggs and start the cycle all over again. See Mainly Ticks life cycle time line below for a better visual understanding.

How the tick Life-Cycle effects Lyme Disease Risk

In August and September larval ticks are generally free of Lyme Disease infection as they are recently hatched and have yet to be infected. Once they take a blood meal from an infected host they will molt during the winter and emerge in spring as infected nymph deer ticks, about the size of a poppy seed. Nymph deer ticks are most active from May through July, which is, not coincidentally, when most cases of Lyme Disease occur. The nymph deer tick is so small and there are so many of them, it is hard to notice when they get on you. This makes infected nymph deer ticks the most dangerous in transmitting Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.

Tick Tube Treatment

Mosquito Squad tick tubeAt Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery we offer tick tube treatment that is essential to eliminating ticks before they have a chance to become the dangerous infected nymph ticks that are active from May through July. Made of cardboard and cotton treated with a tick-killing chemical, the tubes are placed in strategic locations where mice are likely to travel and collect nesting materials around your home and yard. The rodents take pieces of the material to build their nests where the larval ticks are having their first blood meal. This eliminates the larval ticks, before they can molt into nymphs and infect humans. Tick tubes are a key ingredient in lowering everyone’s risk for Lyme Disease. With up to 3,000 eggs per female tick hatching each spring, eliminating ticks in the first stage of their life cycle is a great way to exponentially lower the deer tick populations in Montgomery County.

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery

Preventing your exposure to ticks is your best weapon in preventing Lyme Disease. At Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery we can eliminate 85-90% of ticks in your yard with our traditional barrier spray and tick tube treatment. Contact Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery to learn more about protecting yourself and your family from the risks of tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme Disease in your backyard! Sign up today • (301) 444-5566 • email:westmontco@mosquitosquad.com

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June 2, 2015

Beyond the Bullseye; Exploring Inflammatory Problems Associated with Lyme Disease

LLyme Disease Awareness Monthyme Disease is an acute inflammatory disease caused by the bite of a deer tick infected with the bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi. The bacteria are the culprit of the infection, and as it enters the body can affect each person quite differently. The disease itself can present itself in a myriad of ways often being referred to as “the great pretender” by many because its symptoms often mimic those of other disorders. There are three stages of Lyme Disease, and each can wreak havoc on our bodies if the disease is not caught early or if the disease doesn’t respond well to treatment.

  • Bulls eye rash from Lyme Disease Erythma Migrans

    The well-known bulls-eye rash associated with Lyme Disease.

    Stage #1 Early Lyme Disease — 

    Lyme Disease begins after an infected tick expels its salivary gland and abdominal contents into the skin of a human. In about 60-70% of cases, a rash may develop at the site of the tick bite. This rash is most often circular with a clear edge, but can be oblong or another shape. This rash is called  Erythema Migrans of EM for short. The appearance of EM can begin from 3-30 days after a tick bite, or sometimes not at all. The rash is often mistaken as a spider or insect bite. The rash was aptly named “migrans” because it grows in size, gradually expanding over several days to greater than 2 inches across; sometimes covering a large, such as a patients’ entire back.  As the center of the rash clears, it takes on a “bull’s-eye” appearance. The rash is usually not itchy or painful.  Sometimes, other rashes occur in other parts of the body far away from the initial tick bite. This is because the spirochete gets transmitted quite rapidly in the bloodstream after the initial tick bite. Where the blood travels through the body the Borrelia spirochete also travel. In early Lyme disease, patients often experience moderate to severe flu-like symptoms (fatigue, chills, fever, headache, and muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes).  In approximately 18% of cases, the classic well-known CDC clinical features of Lyme disease are not present.  In these cases, the only symptoms may be marked fatigue and flu-like symptoms. Given that fatigue and flu-like symptoms may often arise from other causes, (hence “the great pretender”) Lyme Disease may not even be considered a possibility in the diagnosis and the patient may suffer for many months with an unrecognized, untreated infectious illness.

  • Tiny deer ticks can mean BIG trouble.

    Tiny deer ticks can mean BIG trouble.

    Stage #2 Late Disseminated Lyme Disease —

    If Lyme Disease is not caught early and successfully treated it may then spread to many other parts of the body.  This can occur over a period of days, affecting the central nervous system (brain), the peripheral nervous system (nerves), the cardiovascular system causing pericarditis and/or 2nd or 3rd degree heart block and possible death, the liver (causing mild hepatitis), the eyes (causing conjunctivitis). and the  muscles and joints (causing migrating swelling, tenderness, and/or pain). Typically the symptoms associated with disseminated Lyme Disease include severe fatigue with a need for naps during the day, low-grade fevers, muscle and joint pains, sleep disturbance, irritability, headaches, light or sound sensitivity, sharp stabbing or shooting pains, and/or numbness and tingling..

Lyme DiseaseAccording to the Columbia University Medical Center Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center, when Lyme Disease first affects the nervous system, one may experience symptoms of meningitis, encephalitis, or cranial neuritis:

 Meningitis is characterized by headaches that fluctuate in intensity from mild to severe with or without associated nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, neck stiffness, or pain on eye motion.

 Encephalitis is commonly accompanied sleepiness, mood swings and irritability, atypical spontaneous tearfulness or personality change, cognitive problems (typically with word finding problems, memory loss, slowed mental speed), balance problems, and sensory hyperarousal.

Cranial Neuritis.also referred to as  CN VII Palsy (facial nerve weakness) is a form of cranial neuritis that is thought by many physicians to be common, however studies suggest that it may be seen in as few as 10% of patients with neurologic Lyme Disease. However, in a patient from a Lyme endemic area or in an individual who has previously visited a Lyme endemic area, a presentation of a facial nerve palsy should lead the physician to test for Lyme Disease.  If the CN VII palsy affects both sides of the face, then Lyme Disease should be even more strongly considered as very few diseases cause a bilateral facial nerve palsy. Typically, a cranial neuritis occurs within days to weeks of the initial infection.

Radiculoneuritis. When the infection in Lyme disease affects the nerve roots, it is called radiculoneuropathy. Typical symptoms include radicular pain and symmetric or asymmetric sensory abnormalities, such as numbness or tingling. The radicular pain may be experienced as sharp stabbing or burning or shooting pains that radiate down a dermatomal distribution, such as into the limbs or across the trunk. There may also be elements of motor weakness.

  • Deer tick awaiting a host in Rockville MDStage #3 Late Neurologic Lyme Disease —  Additionally Late stage Lyme Disease can also cause Encephalomyelitis and Neuropsychiatric Lyme Disease. Neuropsychiatric symptoms can emerge early or late in the disseminated phase of infection. These symptoms commonly appear as cognitive symptoms (as in the encephalopathy above) and as irritability, easy tearfulness, anxiety, and depression. Neurologic Lyme Disease can also affect hearing and vision in many patients. Patients may develop cognitive problems from Lyme Disease either early or many months or years after the initial infection.  The cognitive problems most commonly include problems with short-term memory, problems with verbal fluency such as in name or word retrieval, and problems with slower speed of thinking. Patients typically report that they have “Brain Fog“, this is attributed to Encephalopathy. Inflammation from Lyme Disease can slow down the brain, aggravate symptoms of pain, swelling, poor concentration, and mood swings.

Additionally Late stage Lyme Disease can also cause Encephalomyelitis and Neuropsychiatric Lyme Disease. Neuropsychiatric symptoms can emerge early or late in the disseminated phase of infection. These symptoms commonly appear as cognitive symptoms (as in the encephalopathy above) and as irritability, easy tearfulness, anxiety, and depression. Neurologic Lyme Disease can also affect hearing and vision in many patients. 

Scientists know that it generally takes 24-36 hours before a tick can transmit Lyme Disease through its bite.  Therefore, even with a tick carrying Lyme Disease, it takes some time for the infection to be transmitted.  Once established a Lyme infection can be long-lasting.  Even after successful treatment and test results showing no Lyme Disease is present, Lyme spirochetes, B. burgdorferi, can be present in small numbers in patients for years.  Until further research is done, it only seems prudent to be safe until a physician confirms a Lyme infection no longer exists.

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery.

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery.

Contact Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery  to learn more about protecting yourself and your family from the risks of tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme Disease in your backyard! Sign up today • (301) 444-5566 • email:westmontco@mosquitosquad.com

 

 

 

 

May 19, 2015

How to protect yourself and your family from the risk of Lyme Disease:

May is Lyme Disease Awareness MonthMay is Lyme Disease awareness month. This event, supported by the Lyme Disease Foundation, is a campaign which promotes preventative measures which can be taken against Lyme disease. Lyme Disease is an acute inflammatory disease caused by the bite of a tick infected with the bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi; which can result in Lyme Disease being spread through the bite of ticks which carry the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium.

Our ultimate goal at Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery is to help keep you and your family safe from the threat of vector-borne illness and disease. On a local level Maryland makes the list as one of the 14 most prevalent states that make up 95% of all Lyme Disease cases nationwide. Lyme Disease is an all too familiar occurrence. Every resident either knows someone within their circle of family and friends, or knows of someone just outside that circle that has had a brush with the disease. Before I had got Lyme myself (which you can read about in my blog “Montgomery County MD Tick Control and Lyme Disease: My Personal Story“) Lyme Disease is the driving force behind my decision to open this franchise in this location.  That is due to experiences still mounting in my family and my neighborhood.

Deer ticks thrive in wooded areas.

Deer ticks thrive in wooded areas.

In the US there are two main species of tick which carry and spread Lyme Disease. These are the deer tick or black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis) in the North central and Eastern parts of the country and the Western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacifus) on the West (Pacific) coast. Both species of ticks are found in wooded areas and here in Maryland Lyme Disease is the most common of all the tick-borne diseases.  Here in Maryland there has been a steady increase in the number of reported cases of Lyme Disease. With this in mind, we want to raise awareness of the disease in order educate both young and old about Lyme Disease and how Marylanders can take steps to prevent it.

deer tick or black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis)

Deer tick or black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis).

Educating and raising awareness of Lyme Disease starts in your own backyard! Proper protocol to deter and control the tick within its natural environment is the first step in staying healthy by reducing the chance of coming into contact with a tick that could potentially harbor the bacteria which causes the disease. Mosquito Squad  recommends the following steps for tick-proof yard:

The 6 C’s to Tick-Proof Your Yard

1.Choose plants 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, under rocks and patio retaining walls are popular hiding places.

5. Protect your pets with Mosquito Squad of the North ShoreCare 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.

How tick tube implementation works:

How tick tube implementation works:

Our method entails a dual tick prevention and control program that targets ticks during each stage of development. Our barrier spray will eliminate adult ticks on contact while tick tubes are placed in key areas on your property, twice a season, to eliminate ticks at their nymph stage. Tick tubes can dramatically decrease the chances of encountering a Lyme infected tick on your property.

Contact Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery today to learn more about preventing Lyme Disease. We are currently taking appointments for our tick tube program. 301-444-5566 or email us at westmontco@mosquitosquad.com.

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery.

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery.

April 17, 2015

Montgomery County MD Tick Control and Lyme Disease: My Personal Story

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery.

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery.

Lyme Disease Affects Us All

If it had not been for the “bulls eye” rash, I wouldn’t have even known that I had been bitten by a tick. The infected tick had fallen off days or possibly weeks before, but there it was. Seeing that expanding rash, I then knew that the achy, blah feeling was not just some summer bug I had caught: actually a bug, in the form of a deer tick (Ixodes scapularis) had caught me! I had contracted Lyme Disease. This was in the summer of 2012, and am happy to report that I have since made a full and complete recovery. For me, since I help treat yards to prevent ticks and mosquitoes from injuring families, it was easy to pinpoint where I picked up the infected tick– a property inspection.

Rash from Lyme Disease

My rash from Lyme Disease.

Lyme Disease’s Mystery

Lyme Disease is a mystery in many ways. Because I had the tell-tale rash, it was also easy to diagnose and positively treat. Not everyone is as fortunate. It is important to understand though, that the rash is not present over 20% of the time. Combine this with the fact that Lyme Disease can many times mimic other illnesses with its symptom list of fever/chills, body aches, swollen lymph nodes, a vastly larger segment of society may actually be suffering from Lyme Disease, without even realizing it.

tick_habitatOur Best Defense

Prevention becomes the number one way to protect yourself from contracting Lyme Disease. It is widely acknowledged are our best defense. There are some easy, important, and simple steps that you can take to decrease your risks. We here at Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery County truly care about our community. Like you, we also, want to be able to use and enjoy our yards without fear. Here are some helpful tick prevention tips we recommend:

  1. Keep compost and debris piles clear from play and dining spaces. Adult ticks natural habitat consists of damp, cluttered spaces. Ticks thrive in moisture and do not do well in dry heat.
  2. By having a well-trimmed yard versus a wilderness wonderland, you eliminate the “questing” point for ticks. Ticks will perch with their back legs on long grass or branches and hold up their front legs, ready to grab on and scurry up the leg or arm of any creature, be it dog, cat, deer, or human. Their favorite latching places are armpits and the groin. No long grass means no place to quest from.
  3. Ticks have known hideouts. Some of their favorite places are fences, brick walls, retaining walls, including walls that are also used as seating areas on your deck or patio. Check these spots regularly for ticks and “clutches.” A clutch is a mass of up to 2,000 tick eggs.
  4. Pets can not give you Lyme Disease, but they can bring ticks into contact with your family. It is important to use preventative care with your pets as well, especially dogs, since they can contract Lyme Disease.
  5. Call the pros for a barrier treatment spray. An effective spray will eliminate live adult ticks on contact.

ms west montgomery tick controlThe Mosquito Squad Solution

Thankfully, we offer effective Montgomery County MD tick control. It’s a personal commitment, for me and my wonderful team of trained professionals to protect your landscape from these predatory invaders. Ticks can live somewhere else other than our yards. Myself and many of our friends and neighbors, including college-aged kids and vibrantly healthy individuals, have also suffered from the debilitating effects of Lyme Disease. To eradicate up to 85% – 90% of the adult ticks on your property, we use an EPA-approved barrier spray that we apply every three weeks to offer continuous protection all season long. Combined with our tick tube program, which takes care of larval and nymph ticks in rodent dens, this offers a very strong defense against ticks which carry harmful illnesses. Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery leaves you with peace of mind to enjoy your yard throughout the spring and summer and well into fall.

Mosquito Squad logo squareTo learn more, we look forward to your call for a free quote at 301-444-5566 or email us at westmontco@mosquitosquad.com.

August 18, 2014

Now is the time to think about tick tube implementation!

Deer ticks in your backyard waiting for you to walk by

Deer ticks in your backyard waiting for you to walk by.

Along with our effective and proven barrier spray for ticks, you may have heard us talk here about tick tubes.  Tick tubes are an excellent way to eliminate future generations of ticks on your property.  Along with our barrier spray, tick tubes are an effective second punch at eliminating ticks in your yard.  So, what are they and how do they work?  When is the best time during the year to use them?

Tick tubes target nymph ticks.  Ticks have 4 stages of development in their average two-year life cycle.  Ticks begin as eggs laid by female adults in late fall.  In MD, ticks are most often found in the dens of white-footed mice.  These mice provide the best conditions for them to develop.  First, the mice build protected nests; second, they are warm-blooded mammals and can provide a blood meal for both larvae ticks and nymph ticks.  Tick eggs laid in the mice’s nest in the fall will become larval ticks in early spring and need their first blood meal.  When white-footed mice aren’t available, chipmunks, shrews, voles and other rodent nests will suffice.

https://mosquitosquadmaryland.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/egg-mass-produced-by-lone-star-tick.jpg

Egg mass produced by tick.

After hatching from eggs in early spring, the larvae take their blood meal from the closest host they can find, the white-footed mouse whose home they live in.  As they grow into nymph ticks, small rodents serve nicely as the tick’s second blood meal.  Nymph ticks still aren’t very big so don’t need an animal with a big blood supply as they will need later when they become adults.  Because mice and ticks spend so much time together when ticks are in 2 of the 4 stages of their life cycle, the mice get bitten many times as hosts to both larvae and nymphs.  The transmission of the Lyme infection from one infected nymph tick who previously took a blood meal from an infected mouse allows the infection to be transmitted to many ticks that later bite the same and other previously infected mice.  The infection rate of mice with Lyme Disease is often as high as 80-90%.

Ticks are not born with Lyme Disease and larvae ticks are never infected when they first enter that stage of their life cycle.  Only after needing a blood meal at the end of the larvae stage can they become infected by infected mice.  Given the infection of white-footed mice and the fact that larvae ticks are often found in the dens of white-footed mice, that first blood meal is where they ticks are likely to be first infected.

The most prevalent source the tick acquires the bacteria is a rodent, such as a white footed mouse, or field mouse.

The most prevalent source the tick acquires the bacteria is a rodent, such as a white footed mouse, or field mouse.

As fall arrives, the nymph ticks are seeking a home for winter and a place they can get their next blood meal as they move into adulthood.  Once again, they will seek out a white-footed mouse’s nest.  In the second spring of its life, the nymph tick will take its second blood meal from the white-footed mouse whose nest it may be in.  It is in this second spring that we and our pets are most likely to get Lyme Disease from a tick.  Since nymph ticks are so tiny, we often don’t notice them on our skin, or on our dog’s skin.  Why do ticks need to bite us for blood when they have the mice?  It’s not often that ticks stay attached long enough to get a full meal from any one source.  As they grow larger, they are above ground and not in nests and begin “questing” for any available animal.  For this reason, a tick may bite several hosts (mice, other rodents, humans, etc.) before getting the amount of blood they need to continue growing into adulthood.

Tick tubes are meant to make sure ticks don’t make it to their 2nd spring.  In order to build a proper nest for winter, white-footed mice will search for nesting material.  Mosquito Squad tick tubes have cotton balls in them saturated with insecticide that will eliminate ticks.  By making their nesting material with the tick tube cotton, the mice will get the insecticide on their fur as they move around in their nest during the winter.  When spring comes again, enough insecticide is on the mouse’s fur that the ticks will be eliminated on contact, before they can get their 2nd blood meal.  No harm is done to the mouse by the insecticide, so they continue to serve as tick-destroying hosts during the warmer months of the year.

how tick tubes work

How tick tubes work

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery.

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery.

By placing tick tubes out at spring, summer and fall your tick protection is supported by a second line of defense, tick tubes.  Each year, as more nymph ticks are eliminated on your property, there should be fewer adults to lay eggs.  Our barrier spray eliminates ticks on contact and works for up to 3 weeks on active ticks living in your yard.  Tick tubes eliminate the ticks you won’t ever see.

If you have questions on how to protect yourself from mosquito and tick-borne diseases, please contact Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery, (301) 444-5566.

August 7, 2014

Can those pesky house mice spread Lyme Disease?

Various types of mice.

Various types of mice.

You may have read stories before on this blog talking about the link between ticks, Lyme Disease and white-footed mice. These stories may have peaked your curiosity about other species of rodents, especially pesky house mice that like to take up residence in our homes. Since we are entering into the peak season for nymph ticks, and very soon,  into the fall when the weather will be growing cooler and house mice will be looking for places to stay warm, now is a great time to become familiar with tick/mouse activity!

White-footed mice do exceptionally well in the habitat of the Northeast US and other similar places because of the urbanization of old farmland.  Open woodlots and brushy areas make ideal living conditions for white-footed mice and ticks.

Although Lyme Disease is not as prevalent in some US states, other tick-borne diseases are.  Tularemia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and other infections are often prevalent in places Lyme Disease is not.  Shrews, voles, rabbits, chipmunks and other small rodents will fill a similar role as white-footed mice in these regions when available.

Notice this white-footed mouse is covered with nymph ticks

Notice this white-footed mouse is covered with nymph ticks.

When an adult female tick needs to lay her eggs, she looks for a location that will have a temperature warm enough in winter to allow her eggs to survive.  White-footed mice build nests in burrows, stumps, brush piles, buildings and in the abandoned nests of other small animals and birds.  These nests provide concealment for them from predators and warmth in the winter.

When an adult female tick lays her eggs in the nest of a white-footed mouse, she is providing both protection and a good start for the next generation.  When hatched into larvae in the spring and early summer, these ticks will take their first blood meal from the closest available small animal, which is usually the white-footed mouse.  Tick larvae are not infected with Lyme Disease when born.  Their first chance to be infected is when they take their first blood meal from the mice.  As these larvae ticks grow and need a second blood meal to grow into their third life stage as nymph ticks, the mice will often serve as hosts to that meal also.

Studies show that 80-90% of all white-footed mice are infected with the Lyme bacteria.  When you consider the number of larvae and nymph ticks that take their blood meal from white-footed mice, you can easily see why the infection rate is so high.  Ticks will often have to bite more than one host for a blood meal in order to get an adequate supply of blood, so they can grow into their next life cycle stage.  If one larvae or nymph tick is infected with Lyme Disease, the infection will usually be transmitted to any of the mice they bite.  Ticks that bite an infected mouse have a very high likelihood of becoming infected themselves and further transmitting the disease.  As ticks become larger, they need larger mammals and birds for their blood meal.  This is how Lyme Disease is transmitted to raccoons, foxes, opossums, birds, and other small mammals.  Deer serve as hosts for adult ticks because of their size allows them to have enough blood to provide many adult ticks their blood meal to lay eggs.

House Mice in a loaf of bread

House Mice nesting in a loaf of bread.

For mice that do not frequent open woodlots and brushy areas, there is little chance of them being exposed to ticks.  No contact with ticks means no Lyme infection.  This is the primary reason that Lyme Disease is rare or non-existent in mice that seek shelter and warmth in your home.  As these or any mice spend time in your yard and in tick habitat, it’s possible they can become infected, if bitten by an infected tick.  House mice have not been studied to determine if they contract Lyme Disease in certain situations; but there is no reason to think they would be immune.  It’s likely they are not a vector for Lyme Disease because they simply don’t spend as much time in tick habitat as other rodents.

As you can see, the circumstances that lead to Lyme Disease are diverse and complex.  With so many vectors, hosts and reservoirs responsible for the disease, researchers are a long way off from knowing how the disease continues to spread. Rather than wait for science to provide a solution, there are effective solutions now such as barrier sprays and tick tube implementation for your yard. Contact Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery now to discuss our tick barrier spray and tick tube program that will protect your yard all season long.

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery.

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery.

Learn more about protecting yourself and your family from the risks of tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme Disease in your backyard! Sign up today • (301) 444-5566 • email:westmontco@mosquitosquad.com

July 24, 2014

Are Humans The Only Ones Who Get Lyme Disease?

Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery wants to keep you informed about Lyme Disease

Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery wants to keep you informed about Lyme Disease!

You may know that ticks get the Lyme bacteria, Borrelia Burgdorferi, from the white-footed mouse and then pass it on to us.  However, do the mice themselves get Lyme Disease?  Do they get sick?  What about all the other animals that ticks bite, like chipmunks, squirrels, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, birds and the like? The list of animals that ticks bite is a long one.  In order to make sense of the research, we need to break down this list.  It is easier to understand how Lyme Disease exists in wildlife by talking about small, medium and large animals, and birds.  The size of the animal seems to make more of a difference than the specie when discussing how Lyme Disease affects wildlife.

All size deer ticks can transmit disease.

All size deer ticks can transmit disease.

How is Lyme Disease transmitted? Before discussing how Lyme is transmitted, we need to define two terms.  The first is the term, host.  A host is, as you would expect, someone who serves someone something.  In the tick’s case, the host is the animal or bird who serves them their blood meal after the tick bites them.  A tick needs a blood meal in each of the three stages of its life cycle, larvae, nymph and adult in order to grow and move onto the next stage. The second term we need to define is reservoir.  Since ticks aren’t born with Lyme Disease, they need to get the bacteria from somewhere.  The term reservoir refers to where the bacteria are present.  Many animals can be reservoirs for the Lyme bacteria, Borrelia Burgdorferi.  Some reservoirs have an abundance of bacteria in their blood.  In other animal reservoirs, there may be very few Borrelia Burgdorferi bacteria.  An animal with a large number of bacteria in their blood are referred to as a competent reservoir.  This means they have enough bacteria to infect any ticks that bite them.  Other animal reservoirs can be incompetent reservoirs, meaning they have so few bacteria present they will not infect the tick when it bites them.

Small animals White-footed mice, chipmunks, rats, squirrels, moles, voles and certain species of birds are competent reservoirs.  These animals are often infected with Lyme Disease, as well as Anaplasmosis and Babesiosis.  These small animals are the ones most responsible for transmitting Lyme Disease to larvae and nymph ticks.  Since larvae and nymph ticks are often in the dens and burrows of these animals, they are often the young tick’s first blood meal.  The small ticks in this life stage do not need a lot of blood for their first meal.  Adult ticks need a larger animal for their larger blood meal. Although studies show these small animals are often infected with Lyme bacteria, there has been little to no research into how the disease affects them.  Whether they get a rash or sick from the bacteria is unknown.  One study that looked into the mortality of white-footed mice and showed 93% of them succumbed to predators, primarily weasels.  Only one mouse death in the study was attributable to Borrelia Burgdorferi bacteria.  From this study, we can hypothesize that most or all of these small animals can succumb to the infection, but it is not common. Is the lifecycle of the white-footed mouse so short or predation so high, that Lyme Disease doesn’t have a chance to take more of them?  We simply don’t know. Many studies have shown that birds are often infected with Lyme Disease and are responsible for its geographical spread.  One NIH study found, “ticks have detrimental effects on their avian hosts even under natural infestation conditions…and may also present symptoms of infection, though these may be subtle.”  Birds do seem to be affected physically by the Lyme bacteria; however, it is not acute or obvious.  Lizards may also become infected with Lyme Disease but are incompetent reservoirs.

Medium size animals Raccoons, groundhogs, rabbits, beavers, opossums, foxes, bobcats and coyotes rarely serve as reservoirs for Lyme Disease.  Scientists also do not find many ticks on them when sampled.  That doesn’t mean they don’t transmit other diseases.  Rabbits transmit tularemia, rarely Lyme Disease.  Beavers, like rabbits, transmit tularemia but are not identified with helping to transmit Lyme Disease.  Groundhogs transmit bronchopneumonia and hepatitis B primarily.  Squirrels transmit tick fever and their fleas can transmit plague.  Coyotes are incompetent reservoirs of Lyme Disease.  Foxes are also incompetent reservoirs of Lyme Disease. Foxes provide a benefit when it comes to Lyme Disease because they are predators of white-footed mice reducing their numbers. Even when the Lyme bacteria are found in these medium size animals, the bacteria present is minimal, making these animals incompetent reservoirs.  No research has been done on how or why the Borrelia Burgdorferi bacteria present in them is so low.  Whether some of these animals have less exposure to ticks carrying Lyme, or whether their immune system is prepared to prevent a significant infection, is not known.  Some scientists and studies have hypothesized that these animals may have a “primitive immune system” but no scientific definition exists for that term.  No studies exist to confirm or deny it.

https://mosquitosquadmaryland.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/egg-mass-produced-by-lone-star-tick.jpg?w=370

Egg mass produced by tick.

Large size animals The only wild large size animal in the tick lifecycle is the deer family. White tail Deer as well as other members of the deer family, including elk, moose and caribou are the blood meal host often chosen by adult ticks.  First, several thousand ticks can attach to deer because of their size.  This number of ticks makes it easy for males to locates the female ticks as ticks use deer to find a mate much like a local “pick-up” joint.  A female tick will use a deer to consume a large blood meal, in order to lay a clutch of 2,000 to 18,000 eggs.  Elk and moose carry dog ticks in the West, which are often infected with Ehrlichiosis and can be transmitted to humans.  With the introduction of elk and moose in the Eastern US, no one knows the effect they may have in Lyme Disease and Ehrlichiosis transmission. All deer are incompetent reservoirs with low levels of Lyme bacteria in their blood, despite the number of ticks that bite them.  Once again, scientists attribute the deer’s immunity to a primitive immune system or an ability to flush the bacteria from their blood. Based on numerous research papers, it is clear that the animals most responsible for transmitting Lyme Disease are small ones, especially white-footed mice, voles and other rodents.  Research studies show that voles become important in the transmission of Lyme bacteria mostly in areas where few white-footed mice exist.  Medium size and larger animals and birds spread the disease further geographically that any of the smaller animals because of their territorial ranges and their effectiveness in giving infected ticks a ride to new locations.

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery.

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery.

Tracing the epidemiology of Lyme Disease is complex, as you can see.  With so many vectors, hosts and reservoirs responsible for the disease, researchers are a long way off from knowing how the disease continues to spread. Rather than wait for science to provide a solution, there are effective solutions now such as barrier sprays for your yard. Contact Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery now to discuss our tick barrier spray and tick tube program that will protect your yard all season long.

Learn more about protecting yourself and your family from the risks of tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme Disease in your backyard! Sign up today • (301) 444-5566 • email:westmontco@mosquitosquad.com

 

July 20, 2014

Would you know if your dog has Lyme Disease?

Rockville MD Canine Lyme Disease prevention

You may not know “man’s best friend” can also contract Lyme Disease, but they can!

The answer is not so clear.  You may not have realized your pet could get Lyme Disease like humans, until your were asked the question.  Dogs, cats and horses can and do get Lyme Disease from ticks, as well as 3 other serious infections ticks carry.  Your dog’s Lyme Disease symptoms are different from ones you may have; or, they may not appear at all.  If symptoms do appear, they may seem to leave on their own and reappear later.  The lack of symptoms and seemingly temporary nature of Lyme Disease symptoms in your dog can make a correct diagnosis difficult.

Of course, dogs are perfect targets for ticks.  When ticks are “questing” or looking to hitch a ride on an animal to obtain their blood meal, they usually hold onto limbs, grasses and other objects about knee-high in height.  They are looking for coyotes, raccoons, possums and yes, your best friend, your dog.  All of these animals, including your canine family member, enjoy exploring interesting and new places outdoors like brush piles, rock piles, thick grass and the like are also perfect places for ticks to live and look for a meal.

In a story for mspca.org, Erika de Papp, DVM, DACVIM reported that it is common for 50-75% of dogs in New England test positive for Lyme Disease.  Of course, Lyme Disease is endemic in New England, as it is in Maryland.  For dogs that test positive to Lyme Disease, only 5-10% may show clinical symptoms of the disease.  If your dog doesn’t show any clinical symptoms, some veterinarians argue against treatment in healthy dogs.

deer tick control and prevention in Rockville MD

Lyme Disease is transmitted through the bite of a deer tick.

The most serious consequence of untreated Lyme Disease can be kidney disease in your dog.  If your dog tests positive for Lyme Disease based on blood tests but is not treated, discuss the benefit of kidney function tests with your veterinarian.  Until recently, veterinarians could only test if your pet’s blood had antibodies present indicating a Lyme infection had occurred.  These tests couldn’t determine if the infection was recent or one your dog had for some time.  A new test to diagnose Lyme Disease in dogs has now been developed to determine if the infection in your dog is recent, which means a better prognosis for treatment.  Of course, your veterinarian will have the most current information on tests used to diagnose an infection and confirm the need for treatment.

The clinical symptoms of Lyme Disease in dogs are fever, decreased appetite, tiredness, swollen and painful joints that may be painful to examination and lameness or limping that may seem to shift between legs.  The appearance of these symptoms between the time of the bite and when they occur may be 2 to 5 months apart.  Symptoms may also appear to clear up, only to return later.  It is important to keep up with any symptoms you observe in your dog and to document when they occur.

Canine Lyme Disease in Rockville MD

Keeping your furry friend happy and healthy is up to you!

With the prevalence of Lyme Disease in some of our most precious canine family members, as well as the difficulty in diagnosing a disease often without symptoms, the prevention of tick bites should be your first priority.  The use of a parasite preventative and regular tick checks of your dog whenever they return indoors are important in Lyme Disease prevention.  In order to eliminate your dog’s exposure to ticks, remove any brush piles and leaf litter on your property and keep grass cut low.  Hard ticks such as the black-legged tick, or deer tick, dry up when exposed to the sun or heat for long periods.  They need shade and moisture, so eliminating their hideouts and keeping your lawn trimmed low will help protect your pets as well as your family from ticks.

Finally, choose our effective and proven barrier spray , as well as out tick tube treatments.  Reduce the population of ticks in your yard and you will have greatly reduced the risks of Lyme Disease for you and your dog!  Don’t forget: Barrier sprays, like the ones used by Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery, eliminate both ticks and mosquitoes.  We’ve discussed here the risk of Lyme Disease to your canine family members.  For your dogs, the mosquito bites bring on heartworm.  Our effective barrier spray will eliminate both pests around your home.

mosquito-squad-family Rockville MD

Contact Mosquito Squad today to learn more about reducing the risk of tick and mosquito-borne illness this season!

To answer more questions about protecting yourself and your family, ( including the four-legged kind) against mosquito and tick-borne diseases, please contact Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery and sign up today • (301) 444-5566 • email:westmontco@mosquitosquad.com

July 7, 2014

Can Lyme Disease Be Transmitted Sexually?

Male and female symbolYou may have heard some discussion lately on the sexual transmission of Lyme Disease.  If you haven’t heard it, you will.  Combine sex with the word disease and you immediately have two subjects in which nearly 100% of the people on earth will be interested.  If advertisers love any news, it is news about subjects that touch people personally.  Sex and disease both fit that criterion.

So what’s the latest information on this subject?  Much of the news is old news.  At the 14th International Scientific Conference on Lyme Disease in April 2001, Dr. Gregory Back presented a paper on “Recovery of Lyme Spirochetes by PCR in Semen Samples of Previously Diagnosed Lyme Disease Patients”.  The first thing to understand about this paper is that 40% of the 132 partners studied (66 couples) were both found to be infected with Lyme Disease.  Lyme Disease, Science and Society looked at this research and after examining the evidence of this early study stated:

There are unanswered questions about this study based on the abstract: We don’t know what kind of microscopic confirmation was conducted and why it was mostly conducted on semen.  We don’t know if patients had other possible routes of exposure to spirochetes.  We don’t know if the DNA sequences recovered matched between sexual partners.  We don’t know whether any of the patients who were sampled had recently taken antibiotics and if the spirochetal DNA that was detected was the result of their bodies trying to purge a massive die-off of spirochetes.  What kind of treatment patients in the study had received so far is an unknown.

Deer tick awaiting a host in Rockville MDAs you can see, the individuals in the study were not tested prior to finding a Lyme infection, in order to establish when the infection occurred.  There was also no evidence of actual transmission or research into the exact origin of the partner’s infection, only evidence that both partners had Lyme Disease.  Since partners live in the same environment, it’s very possible that one partner didn’t remember being bitten by a tick.  Nymph ticks are the size of a poppy-seed and difficult to detect.  Due to their small size, they are often not found by their human host unless seen fully engorged with blood.  Simply stated, it’s a leap to identify two related patients and make a leap that one gave the other any disease.  For example, if a husband has the flu, his wife may think he gave it to her.  In fact, she may have gotten it from someone at work.  Infectious diseases in the real world don’t always neatly move in the direction we expect.

Other studies claim that the spirochetes of syphilis and those of Lyme Disease are similar.  While it’s true they are similar, they do not share the same environmental preferences.  Lyme spirochetes don’t survive very long on the surface of the skin.  However, syphilis spirochetes do very well in moist superficial skin lesions.

If detected during pregnancy, Lyme Disease can be easily treated in the mother with antibiotics that do not harm the fetus.  The CDC says, “Untreated Lyme disease during pregnancy may lead to infection of the placenta and possible stillbirth.”  Lymediseaseassociation.org says, “The bacteria can also be passed through the placenta of a pregnant woman to the fetus—congenital transmission.”  Since a Lyme infection occurs through the blood, it makes sense a fetus can become infected.

When considering breast milk in mothers, the DNA of Lyme Disease has been found.  This does not mean it has been proven that a newborn can get Lyme Disease through breast milk, only that evidence of the disease is present in the milk.  There have not been any cases linking breast milk in the transmission of Lyme Disease.

Researchers know that the Lyme bacteria can survive blood bank storage conditions.  Once again, there have been no suspected cases of Lyme transmission through blood transfusions.  However, animal studies do show that Lyme bacteria can be transmitted through blood transfusions in mice.

EngorgedFemaleDeerTicks

The CDC does not consider the transmission of Lyme Disease through sexual intimacy very likely.  As mentioned earlier, there is anecdotal evidence of possible sexual transmission but much more research needs to be done.  There are already enough sexually transmitted diseases for everyone to be concerned about transmitting to their sexual partners, without knowing if Lyme Disease is one of them.  Taking precautions regarding any infection someone may have, on behalf of sexual partners, should be common sense behavior.

tick_habitatScientists know that it generally takes 24-36 hours before a tick can transmit Lyme Disease through its bite.  Therefore, even with a tick carrying Lyme Disease, it takes some time for the infection to be transmitted.  Once established a Lyme infection can be long-lasting.  Even after successful treatment and test results showing no Lyme Disease is present, Lyme spirochetes, B. burgdorferi, can be present in small numbers in patients for years.  Until further research is done, it only seems prudent to be safe until a physician confirms a Lyme infection no longer exists.

Contact Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery  to learn more about protecting yourself and your family from the risks of tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme Disease in your backyard! Sign up today • (301) 444-5566 • email:westmontco@mosquitosquad.com

 

 

May 15, 2014

The famous faces of Lyme Disease

The Ixodes scapularis tick (AKA the blacklegged tick or deer tick) carries the bacterium that causes Lyme Disease which is called Borrelia burgdorferi .

The Ixodes scapularis tick (AKA the black-legged tick or deer tick) carries the bacterium that causes Lyme Disease which is called Borrelia burgdorferi .

We all love reading about what is happening in the lives of our favorite celebrities. Whether it is an athlete that we admire or the talent of our favorite musician, our ears and eyes perk up when they are mentioned in the media. Most of the time the areas reported on most within the world of celebrities are trivial and only gives us a peek into their facade and doesn’t gauge them as “real” people who suffer from “real” problems. Recently, that has started to change as more and more celebrities are coming forward to speak about their ordeal with a sometimes debilitating disease called Lyme Disease.

Lyme Disease is a BIG problem caused by the bite of a tiny tick. The Ixodes scapularis tick (AKA the black-legged tick or deer tick) can carry the bacterium that causes Lyme Disease which is called Borrelia burgdorferi . Contrary to belief, ticks are not born infected with the bacterium and must feed from a host infected with the bacterium in order to become infected and before transmission is possible. The most prevalent source the tick acquires the bacteria from a rodent, such as a white footed mouse, or field mouse.

The most prevalent source the tick acquires the bacteria is a rodent, such as a white footed mouse, or field mouse.

The most prevalent source of where the tick gets the bacteria is from rodents, such as white footed mice, or field mice.

The tick then goes on to feed from a secondary host, which could quite possible be you, a member of your family, or even your pet. Ticks will attach to any part of the human body but are often found in hard-to-see areas such as the groin, armpits, and scalp. In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36-48 hours or more before the Lyme Disease bacterium can be transmitted. Most humans are infected with Lyme Disease through the bite of an immature tick called a nymph. Nymphs are tiny (about the size of a poppy-seed) and difficult to see; they feed during the spring and summer months. Adult ticks can also transmit Lyme Disease, but they are much larger and may be more likely to be discovered and removed before they have had time to transmit the bacteria. Adult Ixodes ticks are most active during the cooler months of the year, such as autumn.

Ticks do not select a host based on gender, race, age, sex, income or social status. Ticks are fiends that are non-discriminate and will feed from anyone who comes into contact with them, including celebrities.While we might not expect A-list celebrities to be traipsing through wooded, grassy areas on a regular basis, stars aren’t immune to tick bites — and many have used their fame to raise awareness for the illness. Here are a few of the famous faces that have been touched by the disease: U.S. President George W. Bush waves upon arrival at RAF Aldg

George W. Bush: In 2007, the annual report on the president’s health revealed that in August of 2006 Bush had been treated for Lyme Disease. A White House spokesman said the president likely was bitten during a bike ride. He noticed a rash that doctors treated, and he had no other symptoms or any recurrence, according to CNN.

Daryl HallDaryl Hall: Duo Hall and Oates were forced to cancel performances in 2005 when Daryl Hall was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. Alec Baldwin

Alec Baldwin :Few details are known about the actor’s Lyme Disease, but he told the New York Times that his symptoms are chronic and return annually.

color-purple-book-coverAlice Walker: award-winning poet, author and civil rights activist. Among her many contributions to the literary world, “The Color Purple” is one of her crowning achievements. The book “The Color Purple” was made into a movie and Ms. Walker struggled with Lyme disease while filming was taking place. She later documented her struggle with the disease in an essay titled ‘The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult’, which was written and published in 1996.

Amy TanAmy Tan Another well-known author who has suffered from late-stage Lyme disease and has become an activist in the fight to boost awareness of the disease. She is most well-known for her book “The Joy Luck Club”. Amy has her own website that chronicles her battle with Lyme disease and tells her story of how Lyme disease affected her life.

Among the list of celebrities that have been diagnosed with Lyme include actor Richard Gere, supermodel Christy Turlington, comedian Ben Stiller,  Governor of New York George E. Pataki, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, and recently singer Debbie Gibson revealed her battle with the disease.

Actor, Kevin Bacon recently joined forces with the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance for this Public Service Announcement:

The Tick-Borne Disease Alliance (TBDA) works to raise awareness for tick-borne disease. They work with other groups around the nation to support initiatives looking to find cures for diseases like Lyme, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis and more. One of the most important aspects of tick-borne diseases is getting a proper diagnosis. The TBDA is working on improving both the diagnostics and treatment for dangerous tick-borne diseases.

Our goal is to reduce the risk of coming into contact with a tick in the first place, because that tick could potentially be harboring a tick-borne illness such as Lyme Disease. Reducing your exposure to ticks is the best defense against Lyme Disease. We specialize in a tick prevention and control program that targets ticks during each stage of development. Our safe and effective barrier sprays eliminate adult ticks. Our barrier spray is also used in conjunction with our tick tube program that targets the nymph tick. Tick tubes can further decrease the chances of encountering a Lyme infected tick on your property.

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery

Susan Levi, Owner Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery.

The problem of Lyme Disease is large, but the solution to reducing your risk of getting the disease is simple – prevention and control.

Contact Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery today to learn more•  (301) 444-5566 • email:westmontco@mosquitosquad.com

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