Massachusetts Tick Safety

Follow our tick safety guide to avoid tick bites while still enjoying the outdoors.

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Lyme Disease is Ancient History Only Recently Spreading Rapidly with Help from Humans

Massachusetts residents are typically somewhat familiar with the recent history of Lyme disease. Named for its 1976 discovery in Lyme, Connecticut, the disease has rapidly spread across New England and the Midwest ever since. But, what if I told you the disease was much, much older?

How Old is Lyme Disease?

Last year, we reported that the bacteria that caused Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, was discovered in a 5,300-year-old mummified person in Italy. But new information indicates the bacteria is even older. In fact, the recently completed full genome sequence of Borrelia burgdorferi indicates the bacteria is 60,000 years old. As reported by MedicalXpress, this discovery challenges previous notions that the current epidemic level of Lyme disease was caused by the bacterium being new or mutated to make it more transmissible, but in fact is due to recent ecological changes.

The forest fragmentation and explosion of the deer population seem to be a more likely cause of the recent rapid rate of transmission of Lyme disease. More deer, thanks to strict hunting regulations and fewer predators, and the suburbanization of New England and the Midwest has created the perfect conditions for the deer tick and subsequently Lyme disease to thrive. In addition to perfect conditions for spreading, Borrelia burgdorferi receives additional assistance from the warming climate which allows deer ticks to “survive an estimated 28 miles further north each year.” All of these scenarios certainly apply to Massachusetts — who can blame us, everyone wants to live here.

Lyme Disease in the U.S. Originated in the Northeast

The team responsible for mapping the b. burgdorferi genome was able to chart out the evolutionary tree of the pathogen. They discovered that the bacterium probably originated in the northeast United States. It then spread south and west. The pathogen was likely transported long distances by birds and then spread further by small mammals, such as the white-footed mouse. With ticks spreading into suburban landscapes where Robins and white-footed mice are plentiful, it has been able to spread quickly, infecting more humans.

While the bacteria that causes Lyme disease has been around for 60,000 years, it has only been in the last fifty years that humans have been working towards ways to combat the disease. With continuous research in both medical intervention and tick control intervention, we are hopeful the diseases spread will begin to slow. Until then, we are pleased to offer effective tick control methods for your home and property. The first step to preventing Lyme disease right now is avoiding ticks and tick bites. Call Mosquito Squad of the North Shore or Mosquito Squad of Central Massachusetts today to learn more about our tick control solutions. 877-266-0977

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What is the Bourbon Virus?

What do you think of when you hear the phrase Bourbon Virus? Does it make you think of an illness related to drinking too much Bourbon? While the name is deceiving, you should become aware of what the Bourbon Virus really is; a tick-borne disease adding to the many reasons that tick bites are no joke.

Only recently discovered (2014) this new tick-borne illness has taken a life in Missouri. Tamela Wilson was 58 years old and only the fifth confirmed case of tick-borne Bourbon Virus when she passed away. After removing two ticks and not feeling well, she was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and given antibiotics. There were several trips to the hospital after that, but the doctors really didn’t know what to do. An unfortunate ending due to a virus so new that there is still too little information out there.

What Do We Know About Tick-Borne Bourbon Virus?

The CDC tells us that this belongs to the Thogotovirus family. It also says that it is “likely” spread through tick and other insect bites. Just another example of how much more there is to learn about this virus. So far, the identified cases have been in the Midwest and South which means it’s not a current concern for us here in Massachusetts. However, it is summertime, and those are both travel hotspots, so it is something to be aware of.

Bourbon Virus Symptoms and Treatment

What we’ve seen so far is that this virus causes a rash, headache, fever, body aches, weakness, and vomiting. Low blood count in the cells that combat infection and prevent bleeding has also been present. Tests for tick-borne Bourbon Virus are still under development. Only the symptoms are treatable at this point. Because this is a virus, antibiotics are not a valid treatment. If you suspect you have Bourbon Virus, see your doctor immediately for the management of symptoms and close monitoring.

Bourbon Virus Prevention

We know that we sound repetitive, but at Mosquito Squad of Central Massachusetts and Mosquito Squad of the North Shore, we can’t emphasize enough that the best way to prevent illness caused by ticks is not to get bitten. With yet another possibly fatal tick-borne virus coming to light, we remind you to prepare yourself when going into places where ticks can be prevalent and when traveling to states that have different tick populations than we do here in Massachusetts.

You know the tick safety drill by now: wear protective and light colored clothing, use repellant with DEET, and be sure to check and double check after your time outdoors. As for your property, let us help control ticks there. Our barrier treatment and tick tube systems are a fantastic way to keep from having to worry about ticks in your own yard. The spray eliminates 85-90% on contact and continues to work for up to 3 weeks. The tubes actually help eliminate next year’s tick population by targeting larvae ticks before they can grow into disease-spreading nymph and adult ticks. Let us tell you more and schedule the first step in a plan that will keep you worry-free when it comes to ticks in your own backyard. 877-387-7823

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Little Girl Dies from Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever… What Do We Need to Know?

Four-year-old Kenley Ratliff died in an Indianapolis Children’s hospital on June 4th. WFYI reports, the Plainfield, Indiana girl had been bitten by a tick on a recent camping trip and became sick with Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Doctors at the hospital say she was severely sick with the disease just days after entering the hospital.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever, RMSF, is transmitted by the Dog tick, and sometimes the Lone Star tick. In Massachusetts, we don’t talk about these ticks often, as we are mostly focused on the deer tick and Lyme disease. These ticks are not as common and there have been few cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in Massachusetts, but with it being very dangerous, it is vital to be aware of the causes and symptoms.

Symptoms of Tick-Borne RMSF

According to the CDC, while there are cases of RMSF spread all across the country, 5 states make up 60% of all cases. Those states are North Carolina, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Missouri. Symptoms usually show up within 2-14 days of being bitten by an infected tick. The sudden appearance of a headache and fever can be the first sign of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Other symptoms can include rash, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, lack of appetite, and conjunctivitis. RMSF can be fatal if not treated quickly. 90% of infected people will have some type of rash, however, it can happen later into the illness. Since the symptoms are rather nonspecific it is important that RMSF is considered if someone becomes ill, especially if the patient has been in an area where tick bites are possible.

Stay Protected and Educated

Traveling this summer? If it is to the south or the west it is possible that you are moving into a territory where the ticks that spread RMSF are more prevalent. Be sure that you are aware of the types of vectors that exist in your surroundings. Especially if a great deal of time will be spent outdoors.

When outdoors, dress in light-colored clothing so ticks are more easily spotted. Use insect repellant that contains DEET. Check yourself well when returning indoors. Ticks like warm moist spots, like the scalp, behind your ears, armpits and the groin area. At Mosquito Squad of Central Massachusetts and Mosquito Squad of the North Shore, we strive to continue to bring you information to keep you and your family aware of the best ways to avoid the illnesses that ticks and mosquitoes can cause. We would also like to work with you on avoiding these pests in your own home. Call us today and let’s create a plan to do just that! 877-387-7823

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Could your Trip to the Cape Give you Lyme Disease? What Scientists are Working on To Help.

There is no doubt that many of you will be heading to the beaches of Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and the Cape very soon. The promise of warmer weather brings out the desire to start packing up the car almost instantly. Along with a high rate of tourist infestation, these areas also show the highest rate of Lyme disease infection in Massachusetts.

The Boston Globe reports that between 2010 and 2014 a small town on Martha’s Vineyard named Chilmark ranked 1st with 1,316 cases per 100,000 people. Nantucket came in second with 598 Lyme cases out of 100,000, and there were other areas in the Cape and surrounding Islands that ranked high as well. Not to say that Lyme Disease prevention doesn’t stay on everyone’s minds across the entire state, “Worcester and Middlesex counties have seen sharp increases in Lyme rates in recent years,” but the Coast continues to lead the pack. Dr. Gerald Yukevich of Vineyard Medical Care says that of the 60 or more patients he may treat on a summer day, 8 or 9 are often cases of Lyme Disease. That’s 8 or 9 EACH DAY.

Can We Change Lyme Disease Numbers for Good?

So what do we do? The ticks are out there. The deer are out there. We don’t want to close ourselves inside during the best weather of the year. Dick Johnson is a biologist working with the tick-borne illness prevention program, sponsored by six of the Island towns’ boards of health. He believes that the way to lower the cases of Lyme disease is to decrease the population of deer. This concept of “culling” the deer population seems to have a high level of doubters. Without almost complete elimination there will be little effect on the spread of disease according to Kiersten Kugeler, and epidemiologist for the CDC.

Mice Transmit Lyme to the Ticks

white footed mouseThere is another idea out there. What if the weak link is the mouse? In their earlier stages, ticks often feed on mice before they latch onto and might infect larger mammals…meaning us. The mice are the perfect host for these smaller, younger ticks and they are also the carrier of Lyme disease. So the process is this: the larvae stage tick latches onto a mouse to feed, contracts Lyme disease, molts into a nymph tick ready to spread the disease to us and our pets. Biologist Kevin Esvelt believes that if we can genetically modify the mice so that they cannot contract Lyme disease, then we can stop it from spreading. Esvelt proposes that mice be genetically altered to either be resistant to Lyme disease or to tick bites. His lab at MIT leads the country in this type of gene altering research. This proposal would be many years in the making and, as with all scientific research, has its opponents. At Mosquito Squad of Central Massachusetts and the North Shore, we will be watching with high hopes to see where this research goes.

Using Mice is Very Effective in Current Lyme Disease Prevention Methods

Our tick tube system uses the instincts of mice and their nesting habits to control ticks within your yard. Within our system, twice yearly we place our biodegradable tick tubes filled with treated cotton in strategic areas of your property. The mice will take this cotton material and use it for bedding in their nests. While not harmful to the mice, the treated cotton will eliminate ticks that come to the mice for their next blood meal. Stopping ticks in early life stages prevents the threat of disease to your family, not only this year but in future years as well. Call us today to schedule an appointment. Mosquito Squad of Central Massachusetts 978-528-3040, Mosquito Squad of the North Shore 978-887-1177

And when you’re on vacation, enjoying untreated areas, be sure to familiarize yourself with all of TickEncounter’s tick safety tips.


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Another Tick to Watch Out For in Lowell… and It’s a Nasty One

Lone Star Tick

As if any aren’t, right? We are talking about the Lone Star tick. The Lowell Sun recently spoke with Dr. Stephen Rich, director of the Laboratory of Medical Zoology at UMass Amherst, where they have been collecting ticks throughout Massachusetts since 2006. He says that in the 10 years of tick collecting, 70 of the 81 total Lone Star ticks have been collected since 2014. That’s over 88% in the last 2 years. Dr. Virginia Sinnott, the senior staff veterinarian for the MSPCA’s Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston, began to notice an upswing in the Lone Star Tick population at about the same time.

Why is the Lone Star tick particularly nasty? In Lowell, we are used to the deer tick, but Lone Star ticks are more aggressive. Their bites actually hurt! They also move in large groups, have better eyesight, and move about three times more quickly than other species of ticks. We might call them more evolved than the average ticks we are used to.

With New Ticks Come New Illnesses

Until now Lowell tick control has focused on preventing Lyme disease. Lyme is not a problem with the Lone Star tick, but it certainly comes with a handful of diseases of its own. Anaplasmosis, STARI, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can all be contracted by a bite from a Lone Star tick. Review the CDC’s website for in-depth descriptions of all tick-borne illnesses including symptoms and treatment. 

There are some strange issues with Lone Star tick bites as well. There are proteins found in a Lone Star tick’s saliva that mirror those found in red meat and cat dander. Because of this, a bite could cause a lifelong allergy to cats or red meat. No steaks for you! (Is it just me or is there a bit of humorous irony in the fact that a tick with the same nickname as Texas could make you allergic to meat? Although not so funny if it happens to you!)

Why Here in Lowell, Mass?

Dr. Sinnott points out that the areas seeing the largest initial increase in Lone Star ticks are areas with more tourist activity. Basically, people from the South are bringing them North, but once they are here it is easy for them to latch on to anything and travel all over the state. That certainly includes right here in Lowell Massachusetts. Warmer, shorter winters and climate change also make for a rise in tick numbers. The north has simply become more adaptable for this type of tick.

Ticks, in general, are a growing problem for Central Massachusetts, and the addition of the Lone Star tick adds to our need of diligent protection and prevention. Mosquito Squad of Central Massachusetts wants to help you, right here in Lowell. We start by sharing our 6Cs of tick proofing your property. We also provide tick barrier and tick tube treatments that can eliminate 85-90% of ticks on your property! We look forward to hearing from you today! 877-266-0977

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Would You Like to Know the Risk Level of Lyme Disease in Your Zip Code?

What if you could input your zip code and out would pop the percentage of ticks that tested positive for certain diseases? Well, guess what? YOU CAN! lists 19 tick-borne illnesses and the percentage of ticks that tested positive for those submitted in the given area. Let me show you some examples. If I take the zip codes for Lakeville and Manchester and search for the positive cases of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, which is the group of bacteria that causes Lyme disease, this is what I get:

Lakeville 02347: 2 ticks tested, both tested positive. 100%

Methuen 01844: 5 ticks tested, 1 tested positive. 20%

Gloucester 01930: 14 ticks tested, 2 tested positive. 14.29%

Manchester 01944: 14 ticks tested, 5 tested positive. 35.71%

I realize this is limited information, but it’s a wonderful tool. The key is getting more people to actually get their ticks tested. $50 may seem like more than you want to pay, but take just a minute to consider what you are contributing to. Not only will you know for certain if a tick you’ve removed from you or a family member is carrying disease that requires treatment, but you are also contributing to valuable research. Research that can lead to better information for forming the right kind of tick protection in your area and also research that could ultimately lead to vaccines for tick-borne illness. It’s hard to overlook the chance to be that helpful, isn’t it?

Be Sure to Remove the Tick Safely – Then Send It In

There are some silly old tales out there about nail polish and match sticks when it comes to removing ticks. What worked for Granddad is NOT a good idea today. Follow our guideline for safe tick removal to ensure you remove all parts of the tick. Send it into and in 3 days you’ll know just what you are dealing with. This is such a quick and easy process for a huge step towards peace of mind when it comes to your family’s well-being.

At Mosquito Squad of Central Massachusetts and Mosquito Squad of the North Shore, we continue to share information as it comes available to us. We are proud of our efforts in keeping our communities protected and informed. We would also like to be a part of that protection right in your backyard. We can eliminate 85-90% of all ticks in your yard for the season. Our barrier spray eliminates ticks and continues to work with its time released formula. Our tick tube system goes further by eliminating the ticks in their youngest stages. That not only protects you during this season but also gets a jump on the next! Call us today and we will create the plan that works best for you! 978-266-0977


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True or False? Central Massachusetts Ticks Are Active in the Winter

deer-ticks-quest-in-winter-Central-MassAs Fall has arrived, Central Massachusetts residents look forward to bidding adieu to the mosquitoes, gnats, flies and other insects that are one of the only downsides of summertime in the Bay State. One of the few exceptions to this rule is ticks. Ticks actually stay very much alive in winter. As long as there is not snow on the ground and temperatures are above freezing, adult ticks can be out and about, questing for a blood meal.

How to Protect Yourself From Ticks in Winter

While we don’t spray for ticks during the winter months, we know that through our Intensive Tick Treatment program you can limit the number of ticks on your property for the entire year. We’ll spray your property with our barrier tick spray every 2-3 weeks all summer long to eliminate adult ticks that are questing for blood meals. To further limit the tick population we bookend those treatments with twice per year tick tube drops. Tick tubes eliminate larval and nymph ticks when they are nesting with rodents. This combination results in a lower tick population year round, and the results are exponentially better the longer you are with us.

Tick Safety During Outdoor Winter Adventures

If you are an active outdoors person during the winter months, chances are you spend time in untreated outdoor areas during that time. To protect yourself from active adult ticks when hiking or spending time in nature it is important that you dress appropriately and conduct a tick check upon returning indoors. This is an easier task during cold weather, but the advice warrants repeating.

Tuck your pants into your socks to keep ticks out. When you arrive home, remove all of your clothing and put it in the dryer on high for 30 minutes to dry out the ticks. Follow our instructions for a full body tick check to make sure there are no ticks hiding on your body, enjoying a delicious blood meal undetected. And don’t forget to check your dog for ticks if your canine companion came along on your outdoor adventures.

Dave Macchia Mosquito Squad square 2

Dave Macchia, owner. Mosquito Squad of Central Massachusetts 877-387-7823

While we’d love to say ticks are a seasonal problem in Central Massachusetts, it is unfortunately not true. Ticks can quest during the winter for a blood meal, so vigilance needs to be maintained as long as the ground is not covered in snow and temperatures are above freezing. Visit our website to learn more about tick control for your Sudbury or Wilmington area property. Call or email today to sign up for season long tick protection. 877-387-7823 We look forward to protecting your property this season and for many seasons to come.

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Lyme Disease, Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Why are These Conditions so Difficult to Distinguish?

nonspecific_flu_like_symptoms_new_tick-borne_diseaseLyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia can be tricky to differentiate. With some shared symptoms, difficult diagnostics, and the unfortunately shared trait of having a large population of doubters, people suffering from one or more of these conditions can be facing a difficult health struggle.

While the three have been mistaken for each other, matters are further complicated by the potential to have co-infections with other tick-borne diseases and the possibility of suffering from both Lyme and either Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome at the same time. Confirming a diagnosis and obtaining proper treatment can be an uphill battle.

What is Fibromyalgia?

According to WebMD, Fibromyalgia is a condition marked by widespread pain and fatigue with no known cause. Symptoms can include chronic muscle pain, fatigue, sleep problems, and painful tender points. Additional symptoms can also include anxiety, concentration and memory problems, depression, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, morning stiffness, numbness and tingling in hands, arms, feet and legs and urinary symptoms. The constant widespread pain is what usually sends a Fibromyalgia patient to see their doctor and can be deep, sharp, dull, throbbing or aching in the muscles, tendons, or ligaments around joints.

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is the result of a bacterial infection (Borrelia burgdorferi) transmitted by the bite of an infected deer tick. Early symptoms of Lyme disease can include a “bulls-eye” rash at the site of the bite, fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes. The combination of these symptoms is different for everyone. Long-term symptoms of untreated Lyme or Post Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS) can include severe headaches and neck stiffness, arthritis with severe pain and swelling particularly in the knees and other large joints, Bell’s Palsy, intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints and bones, heart palpitations, dizziness or shortness of breath, nerve pain, shooting pains or tingling in the hands or feet, problems with short-term memory.

What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

According to the Mayo Clinic, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is characterized by extreme fatigue that cannot be explained by an underlying health condition. They explain that the fatigue may get worse with physical or mental activity but does not improve with rest. The Mayo Clinic has identified “eight official signs and symptoms” which include fatigue, loss of memory or concentration, sore throat, enlarged lymph nodes in neck or armpits, unexplained muscle pain, pain that moves from one joint to another, headaches of a new type, pattern or severity, unrefreshing sleep and extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise.

As you see above, the shared symptoms and the difficulty of identifying the underlying cause can make it difficult to diagnose these three conditions. While Lyme is the easiest to diagnose, tests are insensitive and false negatives are not uncommon. If you are suffering from a combination of the above symptoms, relentlessly seek a physician who will help you find the right diagnosis and treatment for your condition.

Dave Macchia Mosquito Squad square 2

Dave Macchia, owner. Mosquito Squad of Central Massachusetts 877-387-7823

We are committed to providing you the best most up-to-date information on the threat of tick-borne diseases in Central Mass. Stay tuned for the latest on ticks in the area. Be sure to follow the 6 C’s of tick control to make certain your yard is not inadvertently attracting ticks.

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Eliminate Central Massachusetts Spring Tick Population Now: Without a Time Machine

rocky-mountain-spotted-fever-in-dogs-Central-MassachusettsWere you picking ticks off your dog daily this spring? It seems like this summer went by in a blink of an eye, making the memories of spring’s plentiful tick season a fresh memory for everyone in Central Massachusetts.  Did you know you can do something now to prevent spring ticks from being so bountiful next spring? Intensive tick treatment from Mosquito Squad needs to be deployed now to lower the tick population in the future.

What is Intensive Tick Treatment?

Mosquito Squad has long perfected our mosquito & tick spray, a.k.a. Barrier spray. Our spray eliminates adult ticks and mosquitoes on contact. Our time-released formula creates a barrier on your property that continues to work for up to 3 weeks. Perfect for immediate results, our tick spray is a great solution to eliminating today’s tick problem.

tick tube in gardenFor long-term protection, Mosquito Squad deploys tick tubes twice a year. Made to work with the tick’s natural life cycle, Central Mass tick tubes eliminate tomorrow’s generation of ticks today. Cardboard tubes stuffed with treated cotton, mice will take the cotton to their dens for nesting material. When larval and nymph ticks enter the den on the mice, they are eliminated on contact.

Tick tubes are a great solution in areas where Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases are prevalent. Ticks do not become infected with most tick-borne illnesses until they have their first blood meal from mice and other small rodents. By eliminating ticks at this phase of life, we limit the spread of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.

Why Are Tick Tubes Deployed Twice Per Year?

Tick tubes work with the tick life cycle for maximum effectiveness. According to URI’s Tick Encounter Resource Center, the tick life cycle is very predictable as ticks require a blood meal to transition from each of the 3 phases of life and to lay eggs. Tick larvae are active in August and September, take a blood meal and emerge in May as potentially infected nymph ticks. Our tick tube placement corresponds with the activity of the larval and nymph cycles in fall and spring to intercept their transition from one host to the next.

Adults are active through winter when not frozen and lay eggs around late May. Approximately 1,500 eggs from each female hatch in July to start the cycle over again.

Tick tubes exponentially lower the population of ticks on your property as you continue to use them. With each tick eliminated you prevent future generations from being born. Over time you’ll enjoy fewer ticks which means you’ll spend less time picking them off of yourself, your children and your pets and more time enjoying your gorgeous Central Massachusetts outdoor living spaces.

Dave Macchia Mosquito Squad square 2

Dave Macchia, owner. Mosquito Squad of Central Massachusetts 877-387-7823

We are committed to providing you the best most up-to-date information on the threat of tick-borne diseases in Central Mass. Stay tuned for the latest on ticks in the area. Be sure to follow the 6 C’s of tick control to make certain your yard is not inadvertently attracting ticks.

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