Lyme Disease In The Limelight With Debbie Gibson Diagnosis

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Lyme disease doesn't discriminate. Although singer Debbie Gibson is the latest noteworthy individual to announce her fight with the illness, lifestyle guru Martha Stewart, actor Alec Baldwin, and President George W. Bush have all been given the Lyme disease diagnosis.  Some say conditions are ripe for an increase in infected ticks and Lyme Disease this spring and summer due to warming temperatures, a particularly snowy and wet winter, and a fluctuating white tailed deer and fox population.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease every year. Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the US. An illness that can have lifelong debilitating effects such as arthritis, fatigue, and even neurological deficits, Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged or deer ticks.

Experts at Mosquito Squad are on watch and have tips to help homeowners mosquito and tick-proof their yards and make outdoor spaces safer.

"It's important to know that there are things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones," says Boyd Huneycutt, Mosquito Squad's resident tick expert. "In addition to performing a daily tick check, there are specific actions a homeowner can take to eliminate tick and mosquito populations in their yard, thus reducing exposure for themselves, guests and pets."

The experts at Mosquito Squad recommend the following tips to help prepare for summer.

The 6 C's to Tick-Proof Your Yard

1. Clear out. Reduce your tick exposure by clearing out areas where lawn and tree debris gathers. Ticks thrive in moist, shady areas and tend to die in sunny, dry areas.  Locate compost piles away from play areas or high traffic. Separate them with wood chips or gravel. Don't position playground equipment, decks, and patios near treed areas.

2. Clean. Eliminate leaf litter and brush by cleaning it up around the house and lawn edges, mow tall grasses, and keep your lawn short.

3. Choose plants. Select plants and shrubs that are not attractive to deer and/or install physical barriers to keep deer out of your yard. Check with your local nursery to determine the best choices for your area.

4. Check hiding places. Know tick hiding places and check them frequently. Fences, brick walls, and patio retaining walls are popular hiding places.

5. Care for family pets. Family pets can suffer from tick-borne disease and also carry infected ticks into the home. Talk to your veterinarian about using tick collars and sprays. As with all pest control products, be sure to follow directions carefully.

6. Call the pros. Professionals use both barrier sprays that can kill live ticks on the spot as well as "tick tubes." Strategically placed, "tick tubes" prompt field mice to incorporate tick-killing material in their bedding, effectively eliminating hundreds of tick nymphs found in each mouse nest.

According to Huneycutt, there is actually an additional "C" for homeowners: communicate. "Once you understand how ticks breed, share that information with others, especially those with small children or those older than age 55. If Lyme disease is contracted by either of these groups, they typically sustain the most severe health complications," Huneycutt says.

When outdoors away from home, the CDC recommends wearing long-sleeved, long-legged, light-colored clothing. Tuck pant legs into socks to refuse ticks an entry point. Check carefully for ticks after being outdoors.

Source: Mosquito Squad, mosquitosquad.com