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Blog | October 2013

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!

We’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.

Malaria Doesn’t Discriminate – Help Join the Fight

I admit that I am a big fan of Rebel Wilson. I find her to be a talented young actress who is absolutely hysterical. The other day I saw a clip of an interview she did where she credited malaria for pushing her to become an actress (stick with me, this will make sense). After school she was a youth ambassador in South Africa when she contracted malaria through a mosquito bite. She became incredibly ill and while in the hospital dreamt that she was an actress. When she recovered, she followed that dream.

Many people believe that malaria is an illness that only affects those that are less fortunate. And while the majority of malaria cases do occur in impoverished areas of Africa, it doesn’t discriminate. People from all walks of life have contracted and battled this terrible mosquito-borne disease. Here are some that may surprise you.

In 1503, Christopher Columbus had to cut one of his voyages short after contracting malaria.

Mother Teresa fell ill with the disease in 1993 while visiting New Delhi. She went to the hospital complaining of a fever, nausea and restlessness. She stayed in the intensive care unit before ultimately being released.

British actor Michael Caine may be Batman’s rock in the films, but in doctors told him he wouldn’t live past 40 after he contracted a rare form of malaria while in the armed forces. One doctor took a chance and combined two other malaria medications and Caine recovered.

Malaria is just one of the serious ailments that Ernest Hemingway survived. He also fought anthrax, dysentery, hepatitis, anemia, a crushed cerebra and ruptured liver!

Mahatma Gandhi became gravely ill from malaria while in prison in 1944. The British released him from jail while sick.

George Clooney got malaria while visiting Sudan. He recovered quickly after starting medication.

During a post-high school survival strip to Africa, Cooper Anderson picked up malaria. He now advocates the same nonprofit that we do: Malaria No More.


For the past four years, Mosquito Squad has been a proud supporter of Malaria No More, a nonprofit with the goal of ending malaria deaths in Africa by 2015. One of our franchisees, Patrick McKennon of Nashville, is currently in Africa on a mission with the organization with his daughter. We can’t wait to update you on their trip!

If you want to help fight this terrible disease that is both preventable and treatable, please donate now at SwatMalaria.net.

How long can you expect mosquitoes this year?

I love fall. The changing of leaves, cooler weather, the pies! Last weekend, my husband, dog and I went for a long walk on a nice cool October morning. When we got back, we both had several mosquitoes bites that have been itching ever since. My husband asked me when the mosquitoes would be gone for the season, which I’m happy to share with all of you!

Mosquitoes are resilient little pests. You may have some cooler days in your area, but they won’t be gone for the season until the first good freeze followed by temperatures lower than 45 degrees. Until that happens, we should rely on mosquito control methods to protect us against the annoyance and dangers of mosquitoes.

Many parts of the country will have an active mosquito population until late October with some areas having some mosquito activity all year round.

In the fall, after mating, the male mosquitoes die. Very few male mosquitoes live through the winter. The females, however, go dormant in hidden, protected places like hollow logs. In spring, when temperatures rise again, the female seeks its first blood meal of the season to develop her eggs.

Mosquito eggs are even more resilient than mosquitoes themselves. They can last for years without hatching. Standing water is the key component to mosquito reproduction, without it, eggs cannot develop and hatch. When the temperatures drop in the fall and winter, the eggs and larvae go into diapause. Diapause is a state of dormancy that renders the larvae immobile.

The mosquito larvae do not put themselves into diapause; instead the environmental conditions place it in diapause. When the conditions change, making them once again normal for survival, the larvae and eggs will then continue into their normal cycle of maturation.

Unfortunately, many parts of the country are looking at several more weeks of mosquitoes ruining your outdoor fun. At Mosquito Squad, our effective mosquito control kills between 85-90% of the mosquito population on a property. If you have question about our mosquito treatments, please contact your local Squad.

Stink Bugs are Back, what can you do?


I have to be honest and admit that the only times I dealt with stink bugs was when I was travelling, but that is no longer the case. My husband and I recently moved and earlier this week, I was minding my own business when a bug dive-bombed onto the couch next to me. Since then, I’ve encountered a few more. In my neighborhood newsletter, they warned us that they will be out in full force and I’m ready!

As temperatures drop, stink bugs move indoors for a place to hibernate for the winter months. You may have stink bugs and not even know it. Our Mosquito Squad of Montgomery County location was recently at a clients’ home who was having a deck replaced. When the deck builder removed just a few pieces of siding from house, they found HUNDREDS of stink bugs underneath. Under siding is one of stink bugs favorite places to hide.

So what do you do if you have seen or suspect you have stink bugs? Here are a few tips.

With most bugs, it is many of our first inclination to smash them. Do not smash stink bugs. There is a reason that stink bugs have that name, they smell! When the pest is disturbed, they emit an odor as a protective measure. When smashed, that odor can linger longer because it is left on the walls, carpets, furniture, etc.

If you have live stink bugs in your home, there are two good ways to get rid of them. The first is to vacuum them up. They key to using the vacuum is that you need to use a vacuum with a bag. The bag is important because it provides a way for you to seal it up and remove it and you can get rid of the smell. A bagless vacuum will smell after the presence of stink bugs.

The second way to get rid of stink bugs, is to flush them. Stink bugs are generally slow moving pests and aren’t difficult to grab, but don’t grab them directly. Use a tissue or some toilet paper and grab the bug. Then simply flush it, bye bye stink bug.


Many of our clients notice stink bugs outside before they make their way indoors and the best way to combat them is to get rid of them before they hibernate in your home. Treatment in a necessary step in many areas of the country to fight a stink bug infestation. At Mosquito Squad, we spray the areas of the home were you have seen active pests and the areas that make the perfect entryways for them. Trust me, the before and after will be night and day.

If you have questions on stink bug control, please reach out to your local Mosquito Squad office.

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