Ticks in general, but especially deer ticks are a major cause for concern in Massachusetts as well as our neighboring states. Many nearby areas are reporting Lyme Disease as epidemic, including New England and especially Maine, where Lyme disease caused by deer tick bites afflicted 13% of the year-round inhabitants. The problem with Lyme Disease only continues to worsen as the deer population and the deer tick population continues to rise, tick prevention efforts are not evolving and lag far behind the growing need for support. According to a recent article in the Boston Globe “Lyme disease in Massachusetts has been an epidemic for years. However, it has not received the attention that it deserves. “In essence more deer ticks mean more people will contract Lyme Disease and less focus on controlling and preventing deer ticks doesn’t equal a successful reduction in people getting sick, things just aren’t adding up in favor of our residents.
For residents on the North Shore protecting yourself and your family from the dangers of our large deer tick problem needs to encompass year-round awareness. Even in winter, ticks can bite on warm days, and climate change is lengthening the seasons when ticks are most active which makes reducing the risk of contracting a tick-borne illness a challenge. Our regional epidemic has yet to trigger a broad public health response on target with prevention campaigns aimed at some other vector-borne illnesses, such as West Nile Virus which is spread by mosquitoes. That is partly because ticks are a devious foe. Vacation spots like Crane and Wingaersheek Beach in Ipswich and Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester are often reluctant to publicize the threat for fear of scaring off business, and the public and politicians often do not perceive Lyme as a serious or viable health threat. The result is a lopsided spending gap between prevention efforts for tick- and mosquito-borne illnesses.
The lack of funding for Lyme Disease prevention efforts has made the task of tick protection fall on the shoulders of MA residents, which can be difficult. Tick illness is so prevalent in this area of the Northeast; in order to remain healthy, residents need to view safe tick practices and exercising prevention methods just as they would the habit of brushing their teeth and flossing each day to maintain good oral health. Among Massachusetts residents that have contracted Lyme Disease many report never even realizing they had been bitten by a tick. Deer ticks can be very tiny, some nymph deer ticks no larger than a poppy seed like the ones you probably have on your bagel at breakfast. Though this tiny predator can pack a large punch, people are reluctant to become vigilant in trying to prevent something they cannot even see.
If Lyme is caught early, most people recover quickly with antibiotics, but up to 25% of people report feeling unwell after treatment — sometimes for months or years. There is enormous controversy among doctors and members of the public about why these patients are sick and how long symptoms can last. But there is no doubt that Lyme is a significant health threat. Untreated, the disease can cause a range of symptoms, from facial paralysis to arthritis and heart problems, to more common complaints of fatigue and headaches. Deer ticks can also transmit four other diseases to humans, and this summer a new disease was added to that list. This new disease is not yet named, but closely resembles Lyme Disease and is spread by the deer tick by a newly discovered bacteria called Borrelia miyamotoi. This new illness might even explain cases of what looked like chronic Lyme Disease, but did not test positive for Lyme.
The combination of rising deer tick populations and rising numbers of human infection from these ticks means just one bite can really change your life. In Massachusetts, some communities — including Framingham, Sudbury, Andover, and Dover — allow bow-hunting on town property to reduce deer populations to prevent Lyme Disease. This is a reaction to what is referred to as the “Bambi effect” where the number of deer, which is the primary host for deer ticks, exceeds the number of people. But as this practice gains traction, so does controversy. Some scientists are on the opponents’ side, saying it is not clear that culling deer will reduce ticks, because adult ticks may find other hosts to latch on to for a needed meal of blood before they lay eggs. This scenario may increase the risk of more humans, and our pets falling victim to the deer ticks wrath instead of the deer. Still other research suggests more needs to be done to control mice, which often pass the Lyme bacteria to young ticks, perhaps by increasing populations of predators, such as the fox.
One thing all parties are in unanimous agreement about is the importance of tick control and prevention practices in both residential and commercial settings.
Mosquito Squad of the North Shore is taking Lyme Disease awareness seriously by providing a tick control program that is focused on eliminating your exposure to potentially infected ticks within the yard of your home or business. We combine tick tube implementation which works by disrupting the life cycle of the deer tick which is responsible for the spread of Lyme Disease, combined with our highly effective barrier spray program to eradicate deer ticks and other species of ticks within your treated area. Our proven combination targets ticks at various stages of their life cycle and can reduce the amount of ticks that could be carrying Lyme Disease in your yard by up to 90%.
Contact Mosquito Squad of the North Shore today to learn more about our effective tick control program and spread the word to your friends and neighbors because communication is the key to raising the awareness and success in reducing the cases of Lyme Disease here in Massachusetts.Call us today for a free quote.