Is the Deadly East Asian Tick in Virginia Beach?

east Asian Tick extermination
Image courtesy of Acarologiste CC by-S.A. 4.0

The East Asian tick has established a foothold in the United States for the first time this year. This species of tick is native to Asia near China. However, it has spread to other countries including Australia. This is the first time that it has been found in the United States. The East Asian tick is an extremely invasive species and it is usually found in large numbers especially around farm animals. The ticks are currently only identified in the New Jersey area. However, no one is sure how quickly they will spread out and they may reach Virginia Beach eventually.

Why Is the East Asian Tick Considered Dangerous?

The East Asian tick is dangerous for a few reasons. The first is that the tick tends to be found in huge groups. There has been documentation that enough ticks attached to one cow that they actually killed it. The ticks can reproduce asexually and are difficult to eradicate. The other major concern is that they carry a number of serious illnesses, with the most serious being the SFTS virus, which has a mortality rate of about twelve percent. Since this is a virus, it is difficult to treat.

Are There Other Types of Ticks I Should Worry About?

You may be assuming that you do not need to worry about ticks this season, since the East Asian tick has not spread to Virginia Beach. However, the experts predict an extremely active tick season for Virginia this year. There are a number of different tick populations already well-established in the Virginia Beach area that can make you sick. Some tick-borne illnesses in the area are STARI, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease.

How Do I Identify the Different Types of Ticks?

Each tick looks slightly different from each other, but since ticks are so small you will need to have at least a magnifying glass. If you are bitten by a tick, you should carefully remove it with tweezers. If you are not sure what type of tick it is, you can keep the tick by putting it on a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and then putting that into a zipper bag. This will kill the tick and you can take it to an agency that can you identify it or you can look for matching images online.

What Type of Insect Repellent Works Well on Ticks?

DEET has been proven to be the most effective insect repellent against ticks. DEET is safe to use on babies who are at least two months old. There are different levels of DEET in spray and you should choose a spray below 25 % for children. If you are traveling into an area that is heavily infested with ticks, you can use something stronger. You can also treat your yard for ticks, which can reduce the chances of being bitten.

What Areas Are More Prone to Ticks?

tick controlTicks are active from the spring into the fall. In the early spring, the biggest risk is from the seed ticks, which can be hard to spot because they are so small. In the fall, you are more likely to be bitten by an adult tick. All of these ticks can carry and spread serious illnesses like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Here are some areas where you are more likely to find ticks.

Wooded Areas

Ticks are often found in wooded areas. They like to crawl up onto bushes or trees where they can crawl onto someone or something as it brushes past. If you are going into a heavily wooded area, you need to take the steps to protect yourself. If you know that you will be still for a long period of time, such as sitting in a tree stand when hunting, be sure to take precautions to prevent tick bites.

Tall Grass and Meadows

Ticks also like meadows and tall grasses. They can crawl onto you when you brush by. They are generally found in areas where the grass is not mowed regularly. Fields at campgrounds and cow pastures and other fields are all likely places to pick up a tick. If you wade through tall grass, check yourself once you leave the area so you can brush off any ticks that you see.

Leaf Litter

Ticks will bury themselves in leaf litter, especially in the fall as the weather gets cooler. If love to shuffle through piles of leaves or jump into the leaves, be sure to complete a careful tick check when you are done. You can often brush the ticks off your clothing before they find a place to attach.

Protecting Yourself

It is important to protect yourself from ticks as much as possible. One way to do this is to be sure to wear insect repellent when you go into an area that is prone to ticks. You should also dress in long sleeves and pants because ticks need to attach themselves to your skin. Tucking your pants into your socks and your shirt into your pants make it harder for the ticks to find a place to attach. You should always check yourself after you spend time in an area that is prone to ticks, because the more quickly you find and remove the tick, the less likely you are to contract an illness. Another option is to treat your yard for ticks.

5 Ways Fleas Can Hurt Your Pets

flea control
Image courtesy of kitty.green66 via Flickr CC by-SA 2.0

Fleas are a common nuisance that can be found throughout the Manassas area. Fleas will live on wild animals and then fall into your yard where they may attach themselves to your pets or even come into your home on your pants legs. Your pet may also pick up fleas when they go to the vet, the dog park or to the groomer. Here are five ways fleas can hurt your pets.

Hot Spots

Dogs and cats can scratch themselves so much in one spot that they actually develop sores which can become infected. If you see these spots on your pet, you will need to take them to the vet in order for them to be checked and to know whether or not you need to put a cone on them to protect those spots from getting worse.

Anemia

Anemia is another possible complication. If the infestation is severe enough, your pet can become severely anemic and they can need treatment. If your pet is lethargic and if their gums are not as dark as usually, this may be signs of anemia. You can have your pet tested at the vet. If the anemia is severe enough, your pet may need a blood transfusion, if it is milder addressing the fleas and other steps may be taken to help get it under control.

Tapeworms

Tapeworms are a parasite that lives in the intestinal track of your animal. They will get them when they ingest a flea that is infected. They may do this when they are bitten and trying to remove a flea or when they are grooming themselves. Tapeworms can cause your animal to lose weight. You may see them in your pet’s feces or if they are scooting across the ground. You may see segments in their bedding or in the fur around their anus.

Cat Scratch Fever

Cat scratch fever is actually an infection caused by bartonella henselae. It can infect both cats and dogs. Many cats may not have noticeable symptoms, but it can affect the heart and make it difficult for the cats to breath. Dogs can also develop serious symptoms including nausea, lack of appetite, chills and diarrhea. This can be spread to a person when scratched or bitten by an infected person.

Hair Loss

A severe case of fleas for an extended period of time can lead to hair loss in your pets. Once the fleas are treated, over time the hair should come back. You may want to have your animal checked for other conditions that can cause hair loss including mange or other complications.

5 Steps to Prepare for Mosquito Season

mosquito controlMosquito season begins May 1st in Virginia. This means that you may be fighting off mosquitoes at this time, and if weather conditions are favorable, you may be dealing with them earlier. In addition to the itchy mosquito bites, mosquitoes pose a serious threat since they are known carriers of several serious illnesses including West Nile virus and the Zika virus. The can also cause St. Louise encephalitis. While not common in the United States they can also spread disease dengue fever and malaria. If you want to enjoy a mosquito free summer, there are things you can do to protect yourself and your family.

1. Prepare Your Yard

One of the most basic things you can do is to keep your yard neat and trim to give mosquitoes fewer places to harbor. This means trimming back your hedges and buses in the fall or spring, and cleaning out all leaf debris so they do not have a place to land. Keep your lawn short will also help your yard to dry out more quickly. You may want to place plants that naturally repel mosquitoes around your yard, especially areas where you will spend a lot of time like around your deck or garden. On your deck you can use potted plants like marigolds or lavender. Other options include lemon balm, basil and catnip.

2. Address Standing Water in Your Yard

Tackling any standing water in your yard can make a big difference. If you have a pond in your yard, you may want to stock it with fish that may feed on the mosquito larvae. You can also add a waterfall or other feature that helps the water to circulate. This will prevent mosquitoes from landing on it. Consider trading out your bird baths for small fountains. If you have corner of your yard that is swampy or rarely dries out, you may want to tackle the grading so that it can drain effectively.

3. Consider Receiving a Yard Treatment

Another option is to contact a professional who can perform regular mosquito treatments on your yard. These treatments will eliminate mosquitoes around your home, and allow you to send your children out to play without having to worry about them catching a mosquito-borne illness. When you choose to have a yard treatment done, you will no longer need to apply insect repellent every time you go out.

4. Stock Up on Mosquito Repellent

While you can take steps to stop mosquitoes in your yard, it is also important to make sure to protect yourself when you are away from home. Mosquito repellent is safe to use and it will protect you and your family from mosquito-borne illnesses. DEET is a good option, as is Picardian. These options will provide the protection you need. You can also buy clothes that are treated with Permethrin. You can also buy the treatment and apply it to your own clothing. Dressing in light colored clothes is another way to protect yourself since mosquitoes are attracted to natural colors.

Can Tick Bites Really Cause an Allergy to Meat?

tick burrowed into skinIn the past few years there have been increasing reports of people developing allergies to meat after being bitten by a tick. This is formerly called an Alpha Gel allergy. Researchers in Virginia were among the first to discover it through clinical trials for a medication. Some patients were having a reaction to one component in the medication and would have similar allergic reactions to red meat or meat from mammals. Some people even have reactions to dairy products.

What Tick Causes the Allergic Reaction?

The Lone Star tick is the only tick that is currently known to spread the allergy to meat. The ticks are common in areas with high deer populations, since the Lone Star tick prefers to feed on the deer. You can identify a tick by looking at its back for a white dot in the center. If you find a tick attached to you, you will need to remove it right away, and then watch for symptoms.

How Can I Tell if I Have an Allergy to Meat?

The symptoms for the meat allergy will build over time. You will not have a sudden reaction just a day or two after the bite. The meat allergy is different from other food allergies, because it is often a delayed reaction, which means that you may begin to experience symptoms up to six hours after you have ingested meat.  There are a number of symptoms to watch out for including severe abdominal pain, runny nose, nausea, diarrhea and hives. Some cases can cause anaphylaxis.

Is There a Test for This Allergy?

Your doctor can complete a blood test to determine if you have an alpha gel allergy. The numbers may decrease over time, which means it may be safe for you to try to eat meat again. You will need to work with your allergist before you do this though as the reactions may get worse each time that you eat meat.

Is the Allergy Permanent?

Some people have had a decrease in the allergy after a few years have passed, while other people have had it expand to include other types of meat including chicken. It is best to avoid any meat from mammals completely in hopes that it may eventually go away.

Can Children Develop the Allergy?

Children have developed the allergy as well. If you have a child that was bitten by a Lone Star tick and begins to develop symptoms several hours after eating, it is a good idea to take him into to be tested. Be sure to ask for the test, especially if you live in an area that has a large number of Lone Star ticks, like Virginia.

What Are Home Remedies for Getting Rid of Fleas? Do They Work?

close up of a fleaIf you have a flea infestation, you may be looking for a solution to help clean up the infestation as quickly as possible. However, you may be concerned about how the treatment may affect you or your pets. You may be looking for home remedies that are free from chemicals that you can do right away. It is just as important to make sure the home remedy works before you try it.

Dish Soap Trap

One suggested home remedy is to create a trap for the fleas by putting out a dish of water with dish soap in it. When the fleas jump into it, they cannot get out and they will drown. This is a completely nontoxic option. You can set several out around your house in the carpet. Fleas are more active at night and it may be best to set them out then.

While this can effectively attract adult fleas, it is not very effective at clearing up the fleas in your home. One reason is that it only deals with the adult fleas, and it does not kill the eggs or the larvae. The eggs that are currently in your home will hatch and you will need to set the traps again in a continuing cycle.

Baking Soda on Your Carpet

Another home remedy is to sprinkle baking soda on your carpet. You can take it a step farther and use a brush to scrub it into the carpet. This will work to help dehydrate the fleas and cause them to die. Then you will vacuum your carpet thoroughly.

This method can help with adult fleas, but it does not address the eggs in your carpet. They will hatch and develop into new fleas. Even if you are very diligent in vacuuming, you may miss just a few eggs and start the entire process again.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is the remains of fossilized algae. The powder will cause the fleas to dry out and die. It is important to leave it out for two days or it will not kill all of the fleas. It only works on the larvae and the adult fleas, and will not harm any eggs that have not hatched yet. Once you have finished treatment you will need to vacuum your house extensively.

This is effective, but it does take time and you will need to leave it down for at least two days to clear up a big infestation. If you do not use the food grade option, you may have irritation from the particles. It can be used for parasite control in dog food, so it is not going to harm your pet if they ingest a small amount.

Clear Up Fleas for Good

The best way to treat fleas is to hire a professional to take care of the fleas for you. They can take care of the eggs, larvae and adult fleas and make sure that your flea problem does not start up again in a few days. It is also important to treat your pets and start using a method to prevent them from catching fleas in the future.

Find out if fleas live on people

All About Lyme Disease

 

Lyme’s disease is one of the most well-known disease that is carried by ticks. It is spread by the blacklegged tick and it is most common in the states bordering the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean. According to the CDC Virginia is one of the 14 states where 95% of Lyme disease cases are reported. It is important to know the symptoms of Lyme disease so that you can seek treatment for the disease.

Symptoms of Lyme’s Diseasetick extermination

 

The first sign of Lyme disease is the bull’s eye rash that will appear on your body. It may be around the tick bite, but it can appear anywhere on your body a few days after the tick bite. It can take up to 30 days to appear and it only appears about 80 percent of the time. Other symptoms include fever, chills, tiredness, muscle aches, headache, joint pain and swollen lymph nodes. If you have these symptoms, and you know you were bitten by a tick, you should seek medical care.

Symptoms of Untreated Lyme Disease

Lyme disease will not clear up on its own, and the symptoms can turn into permanent damage that is difficult to treat. If you do not seek medical attention because you think it is a cold or virus, you may end up with more complications including severe headache and neck stiffness. Arthritis in the larger joints and pain that comes and goes in your muscles, joints and bones. Other symptoms include an irregular hear beat and nerve pain.

Diagnosing Lyme Disease

The doctor may look for the rash to see if you have signs or symptoms of Lyme disease. There is also a blood test that the doctor can complete. This is more likely to be used in cases where the rash is not present and you know that you were bitten by a tick or that you are someone that frequently visits area where you may be more likely to be bitten by a tick.

Treating for Lyme Disease

There is an antibiotic that can treat for Lyme disease. The sooner you get treated, the better the prognosis for a full recovery. If you waited to get treated, you may need to go on the antibiotics more than one time. There are a few antibiotics that your doctor may prescribe based on your medical history. The treatments may take up to three weeks to complete. You may also develop Post treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome, which means that you can still be tired and have muscle aches for up to six months afterwards.

Learn about ticks in Virginia and the diseases they cause.

5 Ways Fleas Can Make People Sick

adult fleaWhen you think about fleas, most people tend to think about the nuisance of dealing with a flea infestation with your pets. You may be concerned about the illnesses that they may cause in your pets, but most people do not think about the dangers that fleas can pose to humans. You might consider having a flea control treatment done around your home since there are some pretty serious diseases that fleas are known to carry. Here are five diseases that you can catch from fleas.

Typhus

Typhus is a serious illness that can be spread by flea bites. Symptoms of typhus include fever, chills, aches, vomiting, stomach pain and loss of appetite. A rash will usually develop about five days after the onset of the disease. Some people can recover on their own, but other people may have serious complications and need treatment with antibiotics.

Tapeworms

Tapeworms are more common in cats and dogs, but they can spread to humans. The tapeworms are spread through fleas. Most people with tapeworms experience unexplained weight loss. They may be more tired than normal and have abdominal pain. Some people do not have any symptoms, but you may notice rice size pieces in your stool. This can be treated with medication.

Mycoplasma Haemofelis

This is a disease that can be spread through fleas, ticks and mosquitoes. It usually affects cats, but it has been known to spread to humans with weak immune systems. In cats, it destroys red blood cells and can cause severe anemia.  If your cat is diagnosed with this, and you have a compromised immune system, you should talk to your doctor about being tested for the disease.

Plague

Fleas are known carriers of the plague which wiped out millions of people in the 14th and 17th centuries. There are three different types of plague. Some symptoms include fever, chills and headaches. Depending on the type you may develop swollen lymph nodes, a sever cough or severe abdominal pain. It is important to seek medical treatment if you think you have the plague since it can be treated with antibiotics.

Cat Scratch Fever

Cat scratch fever is transmitted to cats through fleas, and then the cat will spread it to humans. In order for a person to catch it, an infected cat must either scratch a person and break the skin or lick an open would or scab.  Small children and people with weakened immune systems are more at risk of contracting the disease.

Read Why Are Some People Bitten More by Mosquitoes?

Protecting Yourself from Ticks and the Diseases They Carry

exterminate ticksTicks are a very small insect that’s capable of creating a lot of problems for whatever it decides to latch onto. And because of their size they’re often difficult to spot. And worst of all is the fact that ticks are known carriers of several serious diseases, such as Babeosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme Disease. Luckily, with a bit of information and foresight there are a number of things you can do to mitigate the amount of damage a tick can cause–as well as prevent encounters with them all together. Read more Protecting Yourself from Ticks and the Diseases They Carry