Below is a very valuable article we found on NJ.com about the Tick epidemic in New Jersey. Lyme disease is a scary thing because it’s so easy to contract. Often ticks are so small we don’t notice them until it’s too late. Lyme disease and ticks are dangerous for humans and pests alike, and we are exposed to ticks just by walking outside. Please read the below article and see our other blog posts on preventing tick encounters to yield a happy and healthy summer!
Thursday, April 3, 2014
April showers and May flowers may be especially welcome this spring because of the harsh winter just past. But this is also the time of year when anyone visiting or living in New Jersey should be on the lookout for another, less pleasurable harbinger of the season – the blacklegged, or deer, tick.
Hardy little parasites whose bite can transmit the bacterial infection that causes Lyme disease, as well as some other bacterial and viral infections, deer ticks are present year-round. But as temperatures rise in the spring and summer, the ticks become more active and go in search of new hosts on which to feed. These include deer, small rodents, birds, dogs and, of course, humans.
A human who contracts Lyme disease can find the results unpleasant, especially if the disease is left untreated. Over time, it can affect every area of the body.
In recent years, there has also been some controversy about possible long-term effects of the disease, even after treatment, and the dangers of how it might be affected by other bacteria transmitted by the ticks.
Medical experts stress, however, that the best plan for dealing with Lyme disease is to make sure you never catch it in the first place.
“Forewarned is forearmed,” said Leonard Sigal, a clinical professor of medicine and pediatrics at Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick. “There’s been a lot of hysteria about Lyme disease over the years, but I don’t know anyone who benefits from hysteria. Instead, just be aware that if you are outside in an area where Lyme disease is a risk, you should know what to do to avoid getting it.”
While there are other tick-borne illnesses – including the extremely rare Powassan virus that killed a Warren County woman last year – Lyme disease is the most frequently reported one in the United States. It is found almost exclusively in the Northeast and upper Midwest. In 2012, the last year for which data is available, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that New Jersey ranked third in the country, after Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, with more than 2,700 new cases of Lyme disease.
Shereen Semple, an epidemiologist with the state Department of Health, said that although Lyme disease is most prevalent in the northwestern counties of Hunterdon, Warren, Sussex and Morris, it is endemic throughout the state.
“Anyone can get Lyme disease, and all ages are at risk,” said Semple. “Males of all ages tend to have the highest number of cases, but the risk is present for everyone.”
As might be expected, the people most at risk are those who are active outdoors in the warm weather.
Ticks can be found in rural, wooded areas, athletic fields and parks, or even just out in the back yard.
Semple said boys between 5 and 9 have the highest incidence of Lyme disease, followed by men between 45 and 55. But anyone who spends time outside in areas that are visited by deer and other wild animals is at risk.
The initial symptoms for Lyme disease often resemble a case of the flu, with a fever, headache, muscle and joint ache and swollen lymph nodes. Semple said that people also should also be alert to a telltale bull’s-eye rash at the site of the bite.
The rash, however, may be too small to be seen, or it might be located in a place on the body that is hard to spot. It should not be considered the only sign of infection.
“If you’re getting a summer cold and don’t feel quite right, you should always be thinking of the possibility of Lyme disease,” said Semple.
Once Lyme disease is diagnosed through a blood test, the preferred treatment is a course of antibiotics.
Untreated, Lyme disease can affect other organs of the body, lead to joint pain and cause cognitive problems. In recent years, there has also been a debate about whether Lyme disease can recur years after someone seems to have successfully completed a course of treatment.
“Everyone recognizes that there is a tick problem,” said Andrea Gaito, a rheumatologist in Basking Ridge, who said she treats many people who have suffered from the disease for years and helps educate physicians about the disease through the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. “The controversy lies in what manifests and causes chronic Lyme disease.”
It is important to know how to protect oneself from the disease.
This is not always an easy job, since the adult deer tick is less than an inch long, and the nymphs are about one-quarter of an inch in size. In general, though, when outdoors, it is important to avoid wooded areas with dense shrubs and leaf litter, and to make sure your yard is mowed, raked and trimmed so that ticks find it less attractive.
Tuck your pants into your socks, wear long-sleeved shirts and use insect repellents on yourself and your pets. It is also important to check yourself frequently for ticks when you are in a tick-infested area.
Don’t overlook places like the scalp, behind the ears, under the arms, on the ankles and in the groin where deer ticks can be hard to spot. And if you find a tick, remove it immediately.
If it has attached to the skin, use tweezers to grasp it by the head and pull it steadily out.
After it is removed, disinfect the bite area and tweezers with alcohol, and wash your hands with soap and hot water.
Most important, said Sigal, is to be vigilant without becoming so concerned that you deny yourself, or your family, the pleasures of outdoor activities.
“If your kids go out to play, when they come for lunch you should … check to see if any freckles are moving,” he said. “If you see any moving freckles, take their clothes and throw them into the dryer for 10 or 15 minutes. That should be enough to kill any other ticks that might be there. Then, dress your kids, give them their lunch and send them back out to play.”
Do you have an existing tick problem? Or are you looking to protect your home from these invaders? Horizon Pest Control can help you! To know more about Horizon Pest Control’s programs, go to Tick Pest Control.