What Do a Mild Winter, Acorns and Mice Have in Common? Ticks.

tick on man's thumb

It’s a bizarre sequence of events. When oak trees produce a lot of acorns (as in 2015), white-footed mice get more to eat, which results in a boom in their population numbers the following summer. The year after a mouse boom, tick numbers explode
–and that’s what’s happening right now. What’s more, mice aren’t bothered by ticks; they don’t groom them off and they don’t get sick from them –so mice are ideal tick hosts and disease carriers.

tick outbreak 2017The Blacklegged (a.k.a. Deer) tick is the primary culprit in the cause of many serious infections in the U.S., including Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis and Babesiosis in the Northeast and upper Midwest. It can also carry Powassan disease, which has been reported in northeastern states and the Great Lakes region.

An additional concern is that populations of blacklegged ticks behave differently in the northern parts of the US than in the south. Nymphs of the blacklegged tick in the north are bolder and more active in seeking out hosts, a behavior known as questing (a key factor affecting the risk of tick bites).

In fact, tick nymphs originating from Wisconsin and Rhode Island have been found to be significantly more likely to emerge from leaf litter than those found in the south.

What Does it Mean for Me and My Family?

The U.S. is a hot spot for tick-borne diseases. Scientists have detected at least a dozen new diseases transmitted by ticks over the last 50 years.

There’s a new Lyme-like disease called Heartland virus. In the midwest and in the south, there’s a rash illness associated with ticks. Out west, there’s a new type of spotted fever, and across a large section of the country there’s a disease called ehrlichiosis.

Is Lyme Disease Still a Concern?

Lyme disease is on the rise. According to the EPA, cases of Lyme disease infections have almost doubled since 1991. With more ticks expected, and earlier in the year, this dramatic increase is not expected to diminish any time soon.

Consider this: just one mouse can transmit Lyme disease to 95% of the ticks it carries. Since some mice have the capacity to host as many as 100 ticks at a time, they are, basically, infecting machines.

The symptoms of Lyme disease include joint aches, arthritis, fever, and fatigue. In some cases, it can even cause neurological damage. Over 30,000 Americans are infected with Lyme disease every year, and there is, as yet, no vaccine to prevent it.

A Rare Tick-Borne Virus that is On the Rise

Powassan is much scarcer than Lyme disease, but it’s significantly more deadly. The virus causes encephalitis (swelling of the
brain). According to the CDC, it kills about 10% of people who become sick, and about half of Powassan patients end up with permanent neurological problems.

Powassan virus was first identified in 1958, and was recognized in deer ticks in the mid-1990s. About 75 cases have been reported to the CDC over the last 10 years, and most have been in the Northeast and the Great Lakes region. Symptoms of Powassan include headache, weakness, confusion, and seizures. In animal studies, Powassan could be passed from tick to host after only about 15 minutes of attachment. For Lyme disease, it takes 24 hours. Like Lyme disease, there is currently no vaccine for Powassan.

Most Fatal Tick Bites Happen in the Yard – Protect Your Family with Yard Armour®

CDC spokesperson Kiersten Kugeler states, “In the Northeast, most people catch Lyme disease around their homes.” Playing in the yard or just mowing the lawn can result in dangerous bites.

Our tick control services have pest management down to a science. Your local Lawn Doctor can target and guarantee the reduction of the tick population in your yard. Ticks are a threat to you and your family’s health and well-being. We’ve got your back.

Call 1.800. LAWNDOCTOR (1.800.529.3628) today for more information on tick control treatments, as well as your FREE service estimate.

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