Those are NOT Tick Eggs in Central Mass

TickEgg Misconception

As seen in your social feed…NOT actually tick eggs.

Informing the public about tick-borne diseases and tick behavior has become much easier and faster thanks to the popularity of social media. With the easy sharing of multiple media types, more people know the symptoms of Lyme and how to avoid tick bites. However, on occasion, a misinformed social media post can spread like wildfire. As spring arrived, we noticed a picture in our news feed that showed what was dubbed “tick eggs” laying on the forest floor. Most of the posts advised readers to burn the tick eggs if they should stumble upon them.

Not All Social Media Posts Are True

TERC_BrownDogTick_FemaleLayingEggs The problem is that the image shown does not show tick eggs. First of all, tick eggs are much smaller. They also are not typically the color shown in the image above. See the images to the right. Thanks to Tick Encounter Resource Center, you can see deer tick eggs and wood tick eggs are tiny and tan/brown/orangish. There are no known tick species that lay eggs as shown above.

Central Massachusetts Tick Eggs

TickEncounter Resource Center female tick laying eggsYou could potentially stumble upon tick eggs in the forests of Central Mass. The adult female tick will take its last blood meal to gain nutrients needed to lay 1500-2000 eggs before dying. These eggs will remain in leaf litter until hatching into tick larvae where they will attach themselves onto small rodents or some bird species. Larvae will get their first blood meal from the rodent, allowing them to molt from larvae to nymph form. This first blood meal is many times when a tick becomes infected with a pathogen (such as Borrelia burgdorferi which causes Lyme disease) that can allow them to spread tick-borne diseases to their next host. While we agree with destroying tick eggs, we want to make sure you know what tick eggs look like.

Central Mass Tick Tubes

In efforts to minimize risk for tick-borne disease and lower the population of ticks in your yard, Mosquito Squad of Central Massachusetts offers tick tubes to compliment our popular tick spray service. The tick tubes are very effective in that they provide insecticide-treated nesting material to mice that are a favorite first blood meal for larval ticks. When the larval ticks come in contact with the nesting material they die. Eliminating ticks at such an early stage interrupts the tick life cycle, stopping ticks before they can spread pathogens or lay up to 2000 eggs each, on your property.

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Dave Macchia, owner. 978-528-4983

Visit our website to learn more about tick control for your Central Mass property. Call or email today to sign up for season-long tick protection. 978-528-4983 We look forward to protecting your property this season and for many seasons to come.

 OR, fill out the form below to contact your local Mosquito Squad directly:

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Westford Tick Testing Discounted at UMass

safe-tick-removal-central-massachusettsAt Mosquito Squad of Central Mass, we have often pointed to the importance of tick testing. Offered for a very reasonable $50 at UMass Amherst, tick testing is a great way to speed up the diagnosis should you become ill after a tick bite. This year, UMass has partnered with about 24 towns in Massachusetts to offer discounted tick testing to assist residents and gather valuable data about the presence of tick-borne diseases such as Lyme, Anaplasmosis, and Babesiosis in the state.

Tick Testing in Westford Mass

tick-genome-mapping-for-better-tick-controlThere are many labs that offer tick testing, but the $50 cost and the guaranteed 5-day turnaround at UMass is very valuable to an ill patient awaiting an accurate diagnosis. And now with their partnership with the city of Westford, Westford residents can have ticks tested for only $20 if they submit their tick through the Westford tick website.

Don’t Destroy Ticks, Save Them.

While our Westford tick control clients should be free of worry when spending time outdoors on their property; hiking, biking, camping and other activities can leave you at risk for a tick bite. Make sure always to check for ticks after spending time outdoors in untreated areas and safely remove any ticks you find. Now more than ever saving the tick instead of disposing it can prove useful in getting a fast diagnosis and treatment if you become ill with a tick-borne disease. Simply place the tick in a well-sealed container. Save the tick for 30 days, if symptoms begin to occur, send it to UMass for tick testing.

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

Preventing tick bites in the first place is always the best form of tick-disease prevention. Our traditional tick spray will eliminate 85-90% of ticks on your Westford property. Add twice per year tick tubes for even further deer tick and wood tick reduction. Visit our website to learn more about Westford tick control. 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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Why is it so Darn Difficult to Remove a Tick?

Tewksbury Tick BiteLiving in Central Massachusetts, Tewksbury residents certainly know a thing or two about deer ticks. Tick populations are at epic proportions, making us experts in finding and removing ticks whether we like it or not. As we all know, deer ticks can’t simply be brushed off; they have to be removed with great and careful effort. Just what is it about ticks that make them hang on so tight?

Built to Hang On

barbed-mouthparts-on-a-tickWhile it may seem just like any other insect bite, a tick bite is a multi-step process. Telescoping barbed mouthparts are why a tick is so difficult to remove. Reliant on its ability to latch on to a host for a several day’s long blood meal, ticks depend on the proper function of this barbed appendage. If they were easy to remove it would make it impossible for them to get a full meal as a change of clothes would cause them to fall. The anatomy of a tick’s mouthparts is where a great deal of the magic happens that allows them to feed successfully for days on their host. The Scientific American recently published a fantastic story explaining exactly how these very specific mouthparts function.

Tewksbury Ticks Bite

By studying ticks under a microscope during the process of embedding into a mouse ear, scientists have been able to learn a great deal about their successful feedings. Think about this microscopic process next time you get a tick bite:

  1. Ticks burrow into their host’s skin with “two telescoping, barbed structures called chelicerae.”
  2. Next, they spread their chelicerae apart like two arms doing the breast stroke.
  3. When they spread the chelicerae a “spikey, swordlike appendage” called the hypostome, sinks into the host.
  4. The hypostome forms a tube for the process of withdrawing blood from the host.

With anatomy made specifically for their long-term blood meal habits, a tick bite is an efficient feeding process. While the little blood they take doesn’t seem to do us so much harm, the bacteria and viruses ticks can spread during the process is something to cause concern. With Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted fever being spread so easily, avoiding ticks and tick bites is the best option for staying healthy.

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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 Tewksbury. 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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Lyme Disease Awareness Month: Did you Know Diagnosing Lyme Disease is a Complicated and Difficult Task?

lyme_disease_epidemic_in_central_MassMay is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, a great opportunity to look a little deeper at the Central Massachusetts Lyme disease problem. Chronic Lyme disease is too often the progression of Lyme disease. Due to late diagnosis and treatment, patients can suffer debilitating side effects that can last for months. Chronic Lyme, clinically known as Post Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS), is a chronic condition that can last for months if Lyme goes untreated or even after treatment. Patients can experience long-term fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain, nerve pain, dizziness, short-term memory loss and other neurological symptoms.

Inaccurate Early Lyme Detection

With the bulls-eye rash being absent or unnoticed in 20-50% of Lyme cases (depending on who is reporting), diagnosing Lyme is not cut and dry. Other symptoms of Lyme such as joint pain, muscle pain, fatigue, fever, chills and headache are the same as many other ailments. The most common current method of testing for Lyme involves testing for the body’s creation of antibodies against the bacteria (Borrelia Burgdorferi) that causes Lyme disease. It can be several weeks after infection before this test is accurate, and if you are given antibiotics in the meantime, it can skew the results. Early detection and treatment is key to lowering the risk for Chronic Lyme symptoms.

New Hope for Speedier Lyme Diagnosing

nonspecific_flu_like_symptoms_new_tick-borne_diseaseWith a great deal of effort going into Lyme diagnostic research, a discovery in genetics could lead to the ability to detect Lyme disease much earlier. Scientists have identified a “gene expression signature” unique to Lyme that makes it possible to detect Borrelia burgdorferi in patients sooner. According to an article in Forbes, the resulting diagnostic test can detect Lyme disease in a patient three weeks before the current antibody testing. By detecting the unique gene expression signature, the testing can also accurately decipher between similar bacterial infections such as B. mayonii and B. Miyamotoi. The article states that this testing is still a few years from being available to the public, but we are hopeful nonetheless.

Lyme Cases are Rising But Hope Exists

With Lyme disease spreading rapidly across the United States and the number of cases rising steadily, Lyme disease is getting more attention. We recently reported on the promising information found in the deer tick genome mapping project for creating vaccines and new pesticides to combat Lyme. It really is just a matter of time before scientists find the right information to lower the nation’s risk for Lyme, a moment we eagerly anticipate.

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

Until the science is well tested and approved for new Lyme testing, vaccines, and treatments, the best way to manage Lyme disease is to prevent it by avoiding deer ticks and tick bites. In Central Massachusetts, where deer ticks are plentiful, tick control is your best choice for keeping an active, outdoor lifestyle. 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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Ancient Bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi Continues to Multiply: Spreading Lyme Disease at A Rapid Pace

It is commonly thought that Lyme disease originated in Lyme, Connecticut as it was first recognized there in the early 1970’s. But actually, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi) was found in a 5,300-year-old mummified person in the Italian Alps. While the age of the bacteria does not help us in fighting the debilitating side effects of Lyme and Chronic Lyme, it does clue us into the fact that it is not going anywhere anytime soon.

Fast Spreading Deer Ticks

Geographically speaking, Lyme disease has spread rapidly from the northeastern coast of the United States where it was first recognized and is still more abundant. The cause of the rapid growth of Lyme Disease is due to the spread of ticks which carry and transmit Lyme Disease. Statnews sites that Ixodes scapularis (black legged tick or deer tick) and Ixodes pacficus (Western black-legged tick) live in 44% more counties across the United States than they did in 1996. They are present in 43 out of the 50 states. The cause of this rapid spread of ticks is considered to a consequence of warming trends across the globe.

LYME_COUNTIES

Red: Ticks that carry Lyme are established. Blue: Ticks that carry Lyme are reported. Image Credit: Stat News

Fast Growing Lyme Disease

With more ticks covering more geography, it is no surprise that the number of Lyme disease cases has also risen rapidly. While Lyme disease incidence is still very dense in the Northeast, including Massachusetts; the CDC reports Lyme disease as the “fastest growing vector-borne infectious disease in the United States.” There are 25 times more Lyme cases per year in the United States than in 1982. It is estimated that up to 50% of ticks in Lyme endemic areas are infected with Borrelia burgdorferi which has 5 subspecies and 100 strains in the U.S. making it difficult to combat with antibiotics.

LymeDiseaseGrowth2001-2013

Elusive Lyme Disease

Whether you’re in Southborough or Westford, chances most of Central Massachusetts knows someone who has been affected by Lyme disease. Lyme disease continues to be elusive due to a few key characteristics:

  • Lyme is hard to diagnose: symptoms are similar to many other illnesses and 50% of Lyme patients never even knew they were bitten by a tick, fewer than 50% observe the characteristic bulls-eye rash and the most common Lyme diagnostic test misses 35% of culture proven Lyme disease.
  • Late diagnosis can mean long-term health problems as the bacteria has had time to enter the central nervous system making it harder to cure.
  • There are no tests to prove accurately that the bacteria has been eradicated from a person’s body after treatment.
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Dave Macchia, owner. Mosquito Squad of Central Massachusetts 877-387-7823

Preventing Lyme disease by avoiding ticks and tick bites is currently the best method for fighting Lyme. 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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How to Check Your Dog for Ticks in Central Massachusetts

“Help! I am pulling a few ticks off of my dog each and every day.”

How-to-check-your-central-massachusetts-dog-for-ticksWe have been hearing from many customers and experiencing it ourselves, the ticks are out in full force this spring and they are relentlessly searching for that ever important blood meal. Your dog is easy prey for questing ticks as they tend to sniff around retaining walls, in the underbrush and roll around in the grass. Whether you own heavily wooded property in Westminster or a well-manicured suburban lot in Wilmington, chances are your dog is bringing ticks in almost daily. If you’re not like the rest of the dog owners in the area, it could be that you’re overlooking something. Here at Mosquito Squad of Central Massachusetts, we want to help you keep your dog safe by teaching you how to check your dogs for ticks.

How to Check a Dog for Ticks

Living in Wilmington, Massachusetts means you should be checking your dog for ticks every day from early spring through late fall. With ticks being as plentiful as they are this year, all it takes is a few minutes roaming the yard for your dog to pick up a few questing bloodthirsty ticks. While you may be well versed in how to check a human for ticks, checking a dog can be a bit tricky. With all of their fur, floppy ears, and hidden crevices, ticks can hide very easily on your fur baby.

tick-control-for-dogs-Central-MassachusettsIt’s important to remember that ticks climb on to your dog from blades of grass or shrubs near ground level and climb upwards. They are looking for moist dark areas to hide so they can embed themselves for a lengthy blood meal. Make sure if your dog has longer or thicker fur you spend additional time during the following tick check process to be sure you find any well-hidden ticks.

Ticks can be as small as a grain of coffee or sesame seed, making careful examination vital. Start by using your hands as a comb and run your hands over your dog’s body feeling for bumps and looking for a red irritated spot on the skin. If you find a spot, part the fur and take a closer look to see if it is indeed a tick. It is important to check your dog thoroughly and everywhere, paying close attention under the collar, in the ears, near their groin, armpits, the base of their tale and in between their toes. Take a good close look at your dog’s face, muzzle and around their eyes, if they stuck their face in some underbrush they can get a tick right on their face. You can even use a flea comb, making sure to stop if you come to a bump or a snag, to inspect closer.

Remove Any Ticks You Find

If you find a tick on your dog it is important to remove it properly and immediately. The longer a tick is feeding the larger it gets and the higher the chance is that it can pass on an infection. Proper tick removal is important to making sure you don’t inadvertently cause transmission from an infected tick.

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Dave Macchia; owner Mosquito Squad of Central MA and author of 2 blogs about tick protection and mosquito protection.

Limit the number of ticks you find on your dog with help from Mosquito Squad of Central Massachusetts. Our tick control services can eliminate up to 90% of ticks on your property. Visit our website to learn more about tick control for your Wilmington or Westminster 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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A New Lyme Bacteria Spread by Deer Ticks Found in the Upper Midwest

New-lyme-bacteria-B.mayonii-Central-MassWith millions of types of bacteria in the world, it is not a surprise to hear about a new Lyme-like pathogen being discovered in the upper Midwestern United States. Last year we reported on the discovery of Borrelia miyamotoi in a patient in New Jersey who was presenting with symptoms similar to Lyme Disease. While the new pathogen we’ll be telling you about today has not been found in Central Massachusetts, it is something to be aware of given our large population of deer ticks.

Borrelia mayonii: New Lyme Pathogen

Like the pathogen that causes Lyme, B. burgdorferi, the newly discovered B. mayonii is transmitted to humans from the bite of an infected black-legged tick (deer tick). B. mayonii has been discovered in patients in Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota who were suspected to have Lyme Disease. So far, blood samples from 43 other states have not identified B. mayonii, suggesting “that the distribution of B. mayonii is limited to the upper Midwest.”

Symptoms of B. mayonii

B. mayonii presents with very similar symptoms as Lyme Disease including fever, headache, rash and neck pain. The key difference with B. mayonii is the onset of nausea and vomiting as well as the potential for a diffuse rash rather than a “bulls-eye” rash normally associated with Lyme Disease. There has also been a higher concentration of B. mayonii in the blood of infected patients versus those infected with Lyme Disease (B. burgdorferi).

Treatment of B. mayonii

So far, the patients infected with B. mayonii have been successfully treated with the same antibiotic treatment prescribed for Lyme Disease infections. The CDC and the state health departments of North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin are working together to learn more about B. mayonii to be able to present better clinical information about the infection.

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

While B. mayonii does not prove to be an immediate threat to the Central Massachusetts area, we are committed to providing you the best most up-to-date information on the threat of tick-borne diseases. 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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Oy Vey! A New Vector of Dangerous Tick-Borne Diseases is Prevalent in Massachusetts

Because the threats we face from the plethora of deer ticks and wood ticks in Central Massachusetts wasn’t enough, we are now facing a threat from the Lone Star tick. The fast moving, disease-carrying pests are migrating to northern states, including Massachusetts, due to the warmer weather. Not sure what a Lone Star tick is or why it is dangerous? We’ve got the rundown to help you keep you, your family and your pets safe from this precarious nuisance.

Lone Star Ticks in Central Massachusetts

Female Lone Star ticks are easy to identify with the lone white mark in the center of their back. They are slightly bigger than deer ticks, but about the same size as American dog ticks. They are fast moving ticks that have been spreading further north for years with the warming weather trends.

According to the University of Wisconsin entomology department, Lone Star ticks are aggressive feeders who are not picky about their host. At each of its 3 life stages, Lone Star ticks tend to feed on a different size host, larvae feeding on smaller hosts and adults feeding on humans and larger mammals. Sometimes nymph and larvae Lone Star ticks are present in large numbers and will “swarm” a human or large mammal. In the south, they call them “seed ticks” and you can pick up twenty to several hundred on your body at one time. (Use a lint roller to quickly remove them)

Tick-borne Diseases of the Lone Star Tick

rocky-mountain-spotted-fever-in-dogs-Central-MassachusettsDon’t believe the many false reports, Lone Star ticks do not spread Lyme Disease. But they are responsible for spreading Southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI) which can present with a similar rash as the common bulls-eye rash from Lyme Disease. Nymph & adult Lone Star ticks are vectors of Tularemia, Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and STARI. As carriers of several diseases and being aggressive biters, these pests are a danger to you and your pets.

According to MSPCA, a single area veterinarian hospital experienced a 220% increase in tick-borne illnesses in dogs from fall/winter 2015 to the same period in 2016. If you’re like many callers we’ve been hearing from and are picking ticks off your dog almost daily, you may want to consider additional tick control methods in addition to your veterinarian’s recommended topical tick control medication.

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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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Babesiosis in Central Massachusetts: A Danger to Dogs & Humans

Much of the discussion about tick-borne diseases in Central Massachusetts is centered around Lyme Disease. While Lyme is certainly a worthy subject, we would be remiss to not share with you important information about other dangerous tick-borne diseases which could be transmitted in Chelmsford, Cambridge and the surrounding area. Babesiosis is the disease in question. A dangerous disease for humans and their furry best friends, dogs.

Babesiosis in Dogs

The American dog tick

The American dog tick

Currently, there is a large outbreak of Babesiosis in dogs in the United Kingdom, which serves as a reminder that it could happen here too. The Babesia canis vogeli, Babesia gibsoni and the Babesisa conradae are the three parasites that can cause Babesiosis illness in our canine friends. These parasites are transmitted to your dog through the saliva of an infected American dog tick, sometimes known as the “wood tick”. Removing an infected tick safely and promptly can prevent the transmission of parasites and other pathogens.

According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), symptoms of Babesiosis in dogs can include hemolytic anemia, anorexia, depression, fever, a pale complexion, an enlarged spleen or bounding pulse. Infected dogs can usually be treated successfully with an antiprotozoal medication, although late or undiagnosed cases could lead to death. If you suspect your dog has Babesiosis illness, see your veterinarian right away. The CAPC recommends treating your pets with tick control medication year round to lower your dog’s risks. As with all dog medication, follow your veterinarian’s advice closely.

Babesiosis in Humans

Deer tick in Central Massachusetts

Deer Tick

Babesiosis illness in humans is usually caused by the parasite Babesia microti. Human Babesiosis is spread by deer ticks (black-legged ticks) rather than the American dog tick. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Babesiosis in humans can range “from asymptomatic to life-threatening.” Massachusetts happens to be among the 7 states that account for 95% of the cases of Babesiosis reported in 2013.

While many people infected with Babesia microti never experience any symptoms, those who do may feel flu-like. Symptoms can include a headache, body aches, fever, chills, sweats, loss of appetite, nausea or fatigue. Some cases can cause hemolytic anemia which can lead to jaundice. Babesiosis can be severe and even life-threatening, especially in people who do not have a spleen, have a weakened immune system, the elderly or those with another serious health condition such as liver or kidney disease.

Babesiosis can be effectively treated with a 7-10 day combination therapy of antibiotic and anti-parasitic drugs. Be sure to see your doctor immediately if you suspect you may have transmitted Babesiosis.

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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Deer Tick Genome Map: The Beginning of New Defenses Against Ticks & Tick-borne Diseases

tick-dna-opens-doors-for-lyme-vaccine-central-massFor ten years entomologist, Catherine Hill at Purdue University and a team of 93 scientists from 46 institutions around the world have been studying ticks in effort to combat the dangerous tick-borne diseases that afflict thousands of people and animals annually. They have just completed mapping the genome of the Lyme Disease carrying black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis), commonly referred to as the deer tick, as part of this effort. Now that the genome sequencing is done, the team says they are just getting started.

What is genome sequencing?

A genome is the complete set of genetic material or genes present in an organism. These genes are made of DNA that carries genetic information. To sequence a genome is to figure out the unique order of the pieces that make up an organism’s DNA. When the work is done, scientists have a genome map allowing them to learn a great deal of information about that particular species.

What are the implications of having a deer tick genome map?

The goals of mapping the deer tick genome are to be able to design targeted pesticides and medicine to combat dangerous tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme Disease, Babesiosis, Powassan disease, Anaplasmosis and more.

Highly Focused Pesticides

tick-genome-mapping-for-better-tick-controlScientists have already learned a great deal about deer ticks from their genome map. Some information is helpful in learning tick behavior, such as the discovery that deer ticks smell with their feet to identify a new host when questing for their next blood meal. This information can help scientists figure out ways to interfere with the tick’s ability to use that sense of smell to find hosts and mates for reproduction.

Scientists have discovered that about 20% of the deer ticks gene’s “are unique to ticks” which can help create highly focused pesticides. The benefit of this focused pesticide is it would only be aimed at ticks, minimizing harm to other organisms even further than today’s current methods.

New Tick-Borne Disease Medicines

Ticks have developed immunity to many of the pathogens they carry. With the information available within their genome map, scientists can develop vaccines for humans and pets and possibly prevent future tick-borne disease epidemics.

The information found in the deer tick genome mapping certainly provides new hope to those of us living in areas where Lyme Disease is at an epidemic level.

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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