LYME DISEASE AWARENESS MONTH: SIX TIPS YOU NEED TO KNOW TO DEAL WITH TICKS IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD

Adult deer tick, Ixodes scapularis.
Adult deer tick, Ixodes scapularis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

May is National Lyme Disease Awareness Month which we at Mosquito Squad are happy to participate in. Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the country with over 30,000 Americans contracting the disease every year! Our vector expert and co-founder of Mosquito Squad, Boyd Huneycutt explains: “there is no doubt that ticks present a threat to the health of Americans, their families and even their pets, due to the movement and rise in the deer tick population. We urge everyone to control the factors that they can, and check themselves thoroughly when in areas that can house ticks.”

Lyme disease can be a devastating disease that unfortunately is on the rise in many parts of the United States. Cause by the bite of a deer tick, Lyme can cause nausea, fatigue and joint pain. Although treated with antibiotics, if left untreated, symptoms can become more serious.

Is there Lyme disease in Texas? Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne

English: The tick Amblyomma americanum (Lone S...
English: The tick Amblyomma americanum (Lone Star tick) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

disease in the U.S. From 1994-2006, an average of 74 cases was reported annually in Texas.

There are six reportable tick-borne illnesses in Texas: babesiosis, ehrlichiosis (including anaplasmosis), Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, and tick-borne relapsing fever. Additionally, a Lyme-like illness known as STARI (Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness), transmitted by the Lone Star Tick, is reportable as Lyme disease.

Mosquito Squad of Victoria recommends the following 6 C’s to Tick-Proof Your Yard:

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 live ticks on the spot as well as “tick tubes.” Strategically placed, “tick tubes” prompt field mice to incorporate tick-killing material in their bedding, effectively eliminating hundreds of tick nymphs found in each mouse nest.

There is actually an additional “C” for homeowners: Communicate.”

Once you understand how ticks breed, share that information with others, especially those with small children or those older than age 55. If Lyme disease is contracted by either of these groups, they typically sustain the most severe health complications.

When outdoors away from home, the CDC recommends wearing long-sleeved, long-legged, light-colored clothing. Tuck pant legs into socks to refuse ticks an entry point. Spray clothing and any exposed skin with a product containing 20% DEET. Clothing and other gear, but not skin, can be treated with Permethrin, which will kill ticks and mosquitoes on contact and should last through several washings. Check carefully for ticks after being outdoors.

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