The Effects and Implications of Mosquito and Tick-Borne Illness on the Elderly

Age is JUST a Number!

Mosquito and tick-borne illness do not play favorites. Infection is random and anyone not protected is at risk. This includes residents of all ages, genders, religions and races. Venturing outdoors unprotected is much like playing a game of Russian roulette. This is especially the case here on the South Shore, just as our recent article Massachusetts Listed Among States Showing Highest Increases Of Mosquito And Tick-Borne Illness pointed out that diseases from mosquitoes and ticks more than tripled from 2004 to 2016.

As with any illness, those most at risk are the very young, immunocompromised, elderly and those with existing underlying health issues. Today, seniors are leading more active lifestyles for longer periods of time. Proof that indeed that age is just a number. Leading a more active lifestyle also means more outdoor exercise and recreation, putting the elderly at a greater risk for coming into contact with a potentially infectious mosquito or tick.

Mosquito-Borne Illness and Its Impact on the Elderly

West Nile Virus is a mosquito-transmitted disease that can infect humans, birds, horses and other mammals. In most humans, West Nile virus infection can cause mild, flu-like symptoms, or may cause no symptoms at all. However in some cases, particularly among 
the elderly, it can cause serious neurological diseases like Encephalitis or Meningitis.

Persons older than 50, particularly those over 65, have the highest risk of severe disease from West Nile.

Tick-Borne Illness and the Elderly

Lyme Disease is spreading all across the globe and the numbers of newly infected patients are on the rise– this disease and its co-infections (Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis) can be life-threatening. This is especially the case with the very young, elderly and those with underlying or immunocompromised conditions. . 

Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection that here in Massachusetts, is primarily transmitted by the deer tick (Ixodes scapularis). However, Lyme disease isn’t the only infection these ticks can carry: Ticks can also carry Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis, Powassan Virus, and of most concern to the elderly, Babesiosis.

Babesiosis is a malaria-like disease also caused by the deer tick. According to a CDC report, the highest number of cases are diagnosed in July, followed by June and August. Seniors, in particular, are the most at risk for this disease because of these factors:

  • Those that do not have a spleen;
  • Those that have a weak or compromised immune system from other reasons (such as cancer)
  • Those that have other serious health conditions
  • The elderly.
  • According to data from the FDA, rates of Babesiosis are significantly higher for men versus women; and higher among women ages 65-84.

Our goal here at Mosquito Squad of Boston Metro South is to keep ALL residents well-informed in order to help protect and prevent mosquito and tick-borne discomfort and illness. Education and prevention are key in the spread of vector-borne illness. It is important to practice common-sense tick and mosquito prevention practices when venturing into unprotected areas along exercising mosquito and tick smart practices in your own backyard.

For seniors in assisted living and nursing home environments, vetting nursing and caregivers at these facilities can be an arduous task for families. And, administrators must help alleviate all concerns by assuring elders will be receiving the best possible care. Conditions at these facilities are scrutinized daily. As healthcare providers must maintain a high level of hygienic and sanitary compliance or risk consequences. As part of general maintenance and for public safety, pest control must be part of routine service. If not properly treated, nursing homes and assisted living facilities can be hotbeds for infestation. This includes reducing patients exposure to mosquitoes and ticks.

Mosquito Squad of Boston Metro South can help seniors identify problem areas on their property and treat it in order to keep mosquitoes and ticks at bay. Additionally, we have had great success in helping many local assisted living and nursing homes eliminate and prevent mosquitoes and ticks on their surrounding grounds.

Contact us today to learn more about residential and commercial mosquito and tick control solutions. You can reach us at (781) 471-5793.

Mosquito Squad of Boston Metro South serves Abington, Avon, Braintree, Brockton (02301), Canton, Cohasset, Dorchester (02124), Hingham, Holbrook, Hull, Hyde Park, Mattapan, Milton, Quincy, Randolph, Weymouth and Wollaston.

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