Tick-Borne Diseases Intensify, Pose Significant Public Health Threat
Terminix Stresses Vigilance throughout Peak Tick Season
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - September 26, 2013 – // PRNewswire // – Blood-thirsty ticks transmit more diseases in the United States than any other pest. Terminix®, the world’s largest pest control provider, recently collaborated with Harris Interactive® to identify tick-related experiences among consumers and found that 43 percent of respondents have been bitten by a tick or know someone who has. Additionally, 33 percent of respondents have contracted or know someone who has contracted Lyme disease – a serious illness that can affect the joints, brain and heart.
While there are 30,000 cases of Lyme disease reported annually to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recent preliminary reports from the CDC suggest that the disease is more common than reported, infecting approximately 300,000 people nationally each year—10 times higher than the reported number. The number of reported cases by the CDC has increased 45 percent over the last 10 years. Victims often mistake Lyme disease as a 24-hour illness, overexertion or sleep deprivation.
“Tick-transmitted diseases are significant and growing public health problems in the United States, which means that we need to be ever more vigilant in preventing tick bites,” said Lyle Petersen, M.D. director of the CDC Division of Vector-Borne Diseases in Fort Collins, Colo. “Since many tick-transmitted diseases can lead to severe disability or even death if left untreated, it is important that people who become sick after possible tick exposure seek prompt medical attention.”
Lyme disease is one of many tick-related diseases spread to humans. About 75 percent of Lyme disease cases are associated with activities around the home such as play, yard or garden work. Other tick-borne illnesses include Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, human babesiosis, tickborne relapsing fever, tularemia, Powassan virus, and the newly-discovered Heartland virus. No vaccines are currently available to protect against tick-borne illnesses and many tick-borne diseases have no known treatment.
“Not only are tick-borne diseases getting more intense where we already knew they occurred, they’re spreading to new areas,” said Stan Cope, Ph.D. and entomologist with Terminix. “Lyme disease is the most well-known infection spread by ticks, but others, such as Powassan virus, are now causing human disease. Without an effective intervention approach, the rising incidence of tick-borne illnesses is poised to continue, particularly in parts of the northeast U.S. that are being reforested.”
Ticks can be found in every state but the species encountered vary. To find a host, ticks climb up on the edge of grasses and branches along trails and wait to drop or grab onto a suitable passerby. Ticks feed slowly, remaining on the host for several days until engorged with blood. In the event that ticks are brought into the home, they can hide in carpet fibers, furniture and crevices year round.
According to the Harris Poll survey, the most popular technique for tick control is applying a DEET-based spray (38 percent), checking for ticks (36 percent) and wearing long sleeves (29 percent). Additionally, tick bites can be reduced by using repellent on humans and treatment for pets. Altering the landscape to increase sunlight and lower humidity can lessen a tick’s attractiveness to a particular area. Since ticks are difficult to control, a targeted treatment can be provided through a professional pest control company like Terminix.
Meanwhile, follow these tips to reduce the risk of tick-borne diseases:
- Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
- Keep grass mowed, weeds pulled and leaf litter managed. Trim tree branches and shrubs around the lawn edge to allow more sunlight penetration.
- Walk in the center of trails, keeping away from bushy areas.
- Move firewood piles and bird feeders away from the house. Use plantings that do not attract deer.
- Discourage rodent activity by cleaning up and sealing small openings around the home.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants and a hat when outdoors. Light colors make for easy tick detection.
- Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and remains protective for up to 70 washings.
- Use DEET -based insect repellent applied to clothing, particularly the lower body and the arms.
- Carefully inspect your body after exiting vegetated areas. Have a buddy check the back of the head. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.
- Wash clothing in warm water and detergent immediately. Or, tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks. Never throw potentially infested clothing in a hamper with other clothes or onto the floor.
- Thoroughly examine pets for ticks after walking them in wooded areas or fields. Consult your veterinarian for tick treatment products.
- To remove a tick imbedded in your skin, do not grasp it by the abdomen and pull. You may squeeze its fluids into your skin, which increases the chances for infection. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick by the head next to the skin and slowly pull backwards. Working slowly permits the tick to withdraw its mouthparts so they do not detach and remain in the skin possibly causing infection. Once the tick has been removed, cleanse the area well with soap and water. You may want to disinfect the bite site with alcohol or apply an antibiotic cream.
To remove a tick imbedded in your skin, do not grasp it by the abdomen and pull. You may squeeze its fluids into your skin, which increases the chances for infection. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick by the head next to the skin and slowly pull backwards. Working slowly permits the tick to withdraw its mouthparts so they do not detach and remain in the skin possibly causing infection. Once the tick has been removed, cleanse the area well with soap and water. You may want to disinfect the bite site with alcohol or apply an antibiotic cream.
The survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive from September 3-5, 2013 among 2,046 adults ages 18 and older. For more detailed information on the survey methodology, including weighting variables, please click here.
Terminix is the world’s largest pest control provider. Headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., Terminix services approximately 3 million residential and commercial customers in 47 states and 14 countries. Terminix provides pest control services and protection against termites, rodents and other pests threatening human health and/or safety. Terminix is a subsidiary of The ServiceMaster Company®. To learn more about Terminix, visit www.Terminix.com.
With a global network of more than 7,300 company-owned, franchise and licensed locations, Memphis-based ServiceMaster® is one of the world’s largest residential service networks. The company’s high-profile brands are Terminix, TruGreen, American Home Shield, ServiceMaster Clean, Merry Maids, Furniture Medic and AmeriSpec. Through approximately 20,000 corporate associates and a franchise network that independently employs an estimated 31,000 additional people, the ServiceMaster Family of Brands® provided services and products to approximately 8 million customers during the last 12 months. The company’s market-leading brands provide a range of residential and commercial services including termite and pest control; lawn, tree and shrub care; home warranties and preventative maintenance contracts; furniture repair; home inspections; home cleaning; janitorial services; and disaster restoration. Go to www.servicemaster.com for more information about ServiceMaster or follow the company at twitter.com/ServiceMaster or facebook.com/TheServiceMasterCo.