Scientists Discover New Tick Borne Virus

In 2009 two Missouri farmers became very sick with high fevers, diarrhea and nausea. Their platelet counts dropped dramatically, but doctors were baffled because they were not having any abnormal bleeding. They thought it was a bacterial infection but antibiotics didn’t respond. Thankfully one doctor thought to send their blood samples to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The report that came back was astounding.

It turns out both men had a virus that had never been seen before. Now, entomologists at the CDC have completed this puzzle that has been coming together for over three years. An article on NPR stated researchers have discovered a new virus appropriately named the Heartland virus in ticks near where the two farmers lived.

So, are you at risk even if you aren’t in Missouri? After testing many, many ticks, Harry Savage, Chief Research Entomologist for the CDC, and his team have narrowed it down to just one species that carries the virus: the Lone Star tick (see image above), recognizable for the white dot on its back. The lone star tick has a broad distribution in the U.S., occupying much of the Southeast.  “It’s the first time anyone has found it in the wild, in the environment,” says Savage. “It means the virus is yet another tick-borne disease in the U.S. — and another reason to prevent getting bit.”

We agree. Ticks are a nuisance and a carrier for more than one undesirable illness. Call Mosquito Joe today and let us treat your yard to make sure it stays tick-free.

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Lyme Disease Awareness Month

May is here, and within this spring month we get Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day – so many fun occasions that we are all excited to celebrate. But, did you know May is also Lyme Disease Awareness month? It may not make you as excited as a Memorial Day cook-out, or a lovely brunch with your mom, but it is something you should be cognizant of, especially if you live in a state where Lyme disease is prevalent. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector borne illness (or disease transmitted to humans by ticks, mosquitoes or fleas) in the United States, with 24,364 confirmed cases reported in 2011. You may have read our blog post about ticks in February, giving you helpful information on ticks and how to keep them out of your yard, and how to remove one but what is Lyme disease? How do you know if you have it?

If you have a tick bite and live in an area where it occurs, you should seek medical attention if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Red, expanding rash
  • Fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes
  • “Bull’s Eye Rash” – occurs in approximately 70-80% of infected persons and begins at the site of a tick bite after 3-30 days (average is about 7 days). The rash gradually expands over a period of several days and can reach up to 12 inches across. Parts of the rash may clear as it enlarges, resulting in a “bull’s-eye” appearance. Rash usually feels warm to the touch but is rarely itchy or painful.

When Mosquito Joe of Howard County’s Kurt Godwin in Maryland made the decision to open a Mosquito Joe, he had a very personal reason to do so. “My son had Lyme disease twice. Both times were frightening, and we didn’t know as much about the disease back then. Each time he developed the bulls-eye rash, and that was scary all by itself as it was a confirmation that he had been infected.  His symptoms were very similar to what most people get; he had fevers, aches, chills, and headaches. On both occasions, we were fortunate enough to catch it early and get medical treatment. Anything one can do to avoid the risk of Lyme disease is well worth the effort and cost.” Kurt is hoping to help others keep their families protected from Lyme Disease and other vector borne illness through his Mosquito Joe services which conveniently launch this month.

As we all make our plans this spring for warm weather, it is important to remember that mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks are not just annoying – they can pose serious health risks. The CDC has recommendations for how to avoid ticks in your yard, but MoJo can help you stop the problem before it starts. Celebrate Lyme Disease Awareness month by calling and setting up a barrier spray to make sure ticks (and other biting insects!) don’t call your yard home.

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Don’t Get Ticked This Season!

Here at Mosquito Joe, if we had to pick the one thing that gets us most excited, we would probably loudly exclaim “Warm weather!” We love the outdoors, we love flowers blooming, and while we don’t love mosquitoes, we do love the time of year when we get to start helping our customers again. This year, with the unseasonably warm winter season, our customers are going to need us more than ever. Warmer temperatures are fostering early breeding for outdoor pests and that equals a big problem for your backyard: more mosquitoes, fleas and ticks! Mosquito Joe is known for its conquest to eliminate mosquitoes, but awareness about our ability to help rid your yard of fleas and ticks is much lower, and since these critters can be just as harmful as mosquitoes, educating you about them is a high priority for us. This week, we have ticks in our sights!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ticks can carry the pathogens for ten human diseases…ten! Ticks can spread illnesses such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Anaplasmosis, which can cause fever, headache, chills, and muscle aches. Ticks are among the most efficient carriers of disease because they attach firmly when sucking blood, feed slowly and may go unnoticed for a considerable amount of time while feeding.  Did you know ticks can’t jump or fly? They can only crawl. Ticks wait for host animals from the tips of grasses and shrubs. When brushed by a moving animal or person, they quickly let go of the vegetation and climb onto the host. Like most people, you are probably saying “Gross!” at the thought, but click here about Tom Mather, a researcher at the University of Rhode Island who catches ticks (yuck!) to help us understand Lyme disease and how ticks work. We are thankful for guys like Tom out there who do those jobs that would send most of us running…and scratching.

As you probably know, our four legged friends can be affected too. Five of the ten diseases ticks transmit to humans can be transmitted to pets. That is why keeping everyone (furry or not) around your household tick-free is important.  And if you do find yourself or a pet with a tick, follow these instructions from the CDC:

1.  Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.

2.  Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.

3.  After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.

To avoid all of this, use prevention methods to keep ticks out of your yard in the first place. Let Mosquito Joe spray your yard and set up a barrier for these intruders. Since our barrier sprays target shrubbery, we already zone in on where ticks live and wait for a host. Don’t let that host be you! Call us today for a free quote. And stay tuned for our next spotlight, fleas!

photo credit: messycupcakes via photopin cc