With summer now in full swing, it is easy to get lulled in complacency about staying safe outdoors especially when you really just want to entertain on your patio or deck with friends and family. However there are still dangers lurking in your yard that could spell medical problems for your loved ones if you don’t take precautions to stay safe this summer. Ticks are one such pest that you should be aware of especially given the potential of transmission of diseases such as Lyme Disease in our region of the globe. There are also some pieces of information that are inaccurate about ticks that you should also be aware of. Let’s examine the Myths and Facts of Ticks.
Myth – Ticks can jump or leap from trees and attach to your clothes or skin.
Fact – Ticks can’t jump, leap or dance! They generally hang out on shrubs or tall grasses or wild animal living near your home, waiting to crawl over to their targets when they brush by the plant that they’re sitting on. They can also crawl right up a person or animal’s body from the ground.
Myth – All Ticks carry disease.
Fact – This is just not true even though the number of infections, transmissions and diseases have risen rapidly over the last few years. Many ticks actually do not carry diseases. Do not panic immediately if you are bitten or find a tick on you. Watch the spot for a telltale bullseye pattern and even draw a circle in pen around the spot to monitor it.
Myth – You will know when you have been bitten.
Fact – Many people have no idea that they have had a tick on them until symptoms begin appearing and they get a blood test at the doctor’s office.
Myth – You’ll know you have Lyme disease if you see a rash that looks like a bullseye.
Fact – A telltale sign of Lyme disease is a bullseye-like rash where the bite took place, commonly appearing as a red spot with a red ring around it. According to the CDC’s signs and symptoms of untreated Lyme disease, however, only about 70 to 80 percent of infected people get this type of rash — so you could still be infected even if your skin doesn’t show it.
If you do find a tick on you after inspecting, the CDC advises to completely remove the mouthparts or the entire head of the tick from the skin, which are the parts you really need to worry about. The idea is to get at least the living part of the tick out within 24 hours to prevent disease.
Mosquitoes are much more than an itchy annoyance while entertaining outdoors. Mosquitoes have the potential to make you really sick. The Centers for Disease Control has instituted the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases (DVBD) which strives to protect the nation from bacterial and viral diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. The CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) monitor the mosquito-borne diseases by location, transmission and mortality rate.
The WHO reports that out of all the disease-transmitting insects, the mosquito is the greatest menace, spreading malaria, dengue and yellow fever, which together are responsible for several million deaths and hundreds of millions of cases every year. One of the most startling statistics is that over 1 million people die from mosquito-borne diseases every year, and hundreds of millions more experience pain and suffering from illnesses transmitted by mosquitoes. Malaria, the most widespread mosquito-borne disease, affects 350-500 million people each year.
The CDC reports that there are three main diseases specific to the United States. These include: West Nile Virus (WNV), Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), and chikungunya.
- West Nile Virus (WNV): WNV is the most common virus transmitted by mosquitoes to humans in the United States. While most infected people will have no symptoms, roughly one in five will develop symptoms that may include a combination of fever, headache, body aches, skin rash, or swollen lymph nodes. Other symptoms may include a stiff neck, sleepiness, disorientation, or even paralysis. In 2015, 48 out of 50 states reported WNV infections in people, mosquitoes, or birds. In those states, 2,060 cases of WNV were reported in humans, and there were 119 confirmed deaths (5.8%) in 2015.
- Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE): EEE is also transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito, but is, fortunately, a rare illness for humans, with only a few cases reported in the United States each year. Although some people infected with EEE have no apparent illness, severe cases of EEE lead to inflammation of the brain, often beginning with a high fever, headaches, and vomiting. The illness will often progress into disorientation, seizures, or coma. EEE is a severe mosquito-transmitted disease, with about a 33% mortality rate.
- Chikungunya: Traditionally, chikungunya outbreaks have occurred in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Since 2013, chikungunya has been found in the Americas on islands in the Caribbean. Since then, about 1.5 million cases have been reported in the Americas. Symptoms are most often a high fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include muscle pain, joint swelling, and headaches.
You may think that mowing is just a boring task to be done every weekend. This chore may just be seen as endless walking back and forth, and up and down the rows of the yard. Maybe you even get fancy and mow the lawn on a diagonal! However, if this is all you think about when it comes to mowing, you are nowhere near the expert mower that you think you are. We have some insider tips for you to transform you into a savvy and skillful mower in no time.
- Be Sharp – Whether you are using a ride-on or push mower always make sure your blade is sharp. This may mean having it serviced at the beginning or end of each mowing season.
- Make a Plan – Well, you were right that mowing in one direction is b-o-r-i-n-g! Alternate the pattern of direction in which you mow in order to keep the grass from leaning in one direction. You may want to make a plan and mark on the calendar what weeks you will mow in which direction. Switching up your pattern from week to week encourages grass to grow straighter and healthier.
- Stop Bagging your Trimmings – You may believe that a lawn that is void of those post-mowing trimming looks messy. Guess what? Those trimming are putting nutrients right back into the soil which make the roots healthier and stronger.
- Watch your Height – Most professionals will warn you against buzz cutting a lawn. We suggest using the ⅓ rule. This means, don’t cut off more than one third of the grass at any one time. Resist the urge to cut more, even if weather or vacation forces you to skip a week.
- Be on Pest Patrol – While you are mowing this is a great time to be aware of pests such as insects and pervasive weeds that may be attacking your beautiful lawn. If you don’t know what could be damaging your lawn, call Pro-Tech Lawn Care to inspect and treat your lawn so you will have that lush green lawn you always dreamed of.
Ticks are huge party poopers when it comes to outdoor entertaining and spending the summer in our yards. This time of year is especially tricky since we tend to spend not only our daylight hours enjoying the outdoors but also our evenings entertaining by fire pits or at the kitchen patio. Add this to the fact that our homes are being built further and further into non residential areas and it is a dangerous combination. How can you keep your family safe this summer from ticks AND still enjoy your outdoor time? Here are a few ideas to prevent ticks from ruining your fun this summer.
- Plan your Outfits Carefully – Ticks do not jump or leap but rather crawl from grasses, wildlife or bushes to their next meal. This means you need to dress appropriately and in an informed manner. Whenever possible wear socks that can cover your ankles and pants that cover your legs. Wear light colored clothing so you can spot ticks easier than on dark clothing.
- Wear Repellant – Apply topical insect repellent that contains less than 40 percent DEET. Children should use repellent that contains no more than 30 percent DEET.
- Conduct Tick Checks -Tick bites are painless, so if you are in an area with ticks, perform a thorough tick check and remove ticks immediately. Tick bites many times are not felt since their saliva is loaded with antihistamines, anticoagulants and other inhibitors that prevent wound healing, and dampen pain and itch responses.
- Create a Tick Free Zone – Call Pro-Tech to discuss treatment options for your yard. Other ways to create a tick free zone is by keeping lawns trimmed and creating barriers between your yard and the woods with wood chips, mulch or gravel. This can eliminate tall grass where ticks crawl. Remove wood piles and stones where mice, chipmunks and squirrels may hide.
- Include your Pets in your Prevention – Using flea collars and tick prevention methods recommended by your veterinarian can help prevent your dog or cat from bringing ticks into your home for transference to your skin.
The Zika virus has become synonymous with birth defects and gut-wrenching fear. Not a day goes by without more alarming information about this mosquito-borne disease. With information from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) we hope to keep you updated on this worldwide issue.
- Symptoms – The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
- Statistics – There are currently (as of June 2016) 691 travel-associated cases reported. There are zero locally acquired vector-borne cases. There are 11 sexually transmitted cases and 2 Guillain-Barré syndrome cases. US territories such as US virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and America Samoa have the following statistics: Travel-associated cases reported: 4 , Locally acquired cases reported: 1,305 , and Guillain-Barré syndrome: 7.
- Infected Areas and Probable Areas The New York Times has used information gathered by the CDC and WHO to gain insight into the probably reach of the aggressive yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, that has spread most Zika cases. That mosquito is common in the United States only in Florida, along the Gulf Coast, and in Hawaii – although it has been found as far north as Washington, D.C., in hot weather.
The red areas include probable mosquito infestations. The lighter the red color the lower the chance.
- Transmission – The CDC and WHO has reported that the virus can and has been transmitted sexually between partners. They do, however, believe that the vast majority of Zika infections are transmitted by mosquitoes, not sex. The unknowns continue to be the answer to these questions. Can a woman pass the virus to a man through sex? Can it be passed through anal, oral or other forms of sexual contact? Does a man have to have blood in his semen to be infectious? Is it infectious before the blood appears? If there is no blood, must he have had symptoms of Zika infection, like fever and rash, to be contagious? How long does a man remain infectious?