Tick Management in Tennessee
TICK CONTROL & PROTECTION
WHY IS TICK MANAGEMENT IMPORTANT IN TENNESSEE?
Tick Management – Why is tick control important? Ticks are spreading like a disease across the country, raising more concerns and a risk of disease. As you know, ticks are a nuisance and hurt when they attach themselves to you. Besides being a bother, ticks also carry vector-borne diseases in Tennessee, such as Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
The Nashville area is home to beautiful outdoor grounds and parks. Ticks are inevitably going to be a part of the landscape. These parks include:
DO-IT-YOURSELF TICK MANAGEMENT
Landscape management is a non-chemical strategy to reduce tick population. Creating an unattractive environment include the following:
- Removing tick harborage areas
- Detaching leaf litter and plant debris from landscaped areas
- Trimming tall grass and overhanging shrubs
- Maintaining wooded trails
- Using wood-chip barriers
CONTROLLING RESERVOIR HOST
First of all, Nymphal and adult ticks become infected with disease-causing agents when they feed on reservoir hosts. Mice are the main carrier for Lyme disease and Deer are the main host for the Deer Tick.
U.S. Pest applies residual products to maintained areas to gain control of larva, numphs and adult ticks while being conscious of our environment. Most noteworthy, U.S. Pest safe and effective insecticides are delivered by means of hand-held application equipment, such as a spreader or backpack sprayer as well as liquid application equipment.
WHY ARE U.S. PEST PROGRAMS THE RIGHT APPROACH?
Working with the community to create the best outcome for tick reduction and using residual application are important components to protect the health of the community.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN SPOTTED FEVER
WHAT IS ROCKY MOUNTAIN SPOTTED FEVER? HOW DOES ROCKY MOUNTAIN SPOTTED FEVER SPREAD?
Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a vector-borne disease that is transmitted through an infected tick carrying the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii. The infection is usually the result of a tick bite; however, infection may also occur when an individual’s skin is exposed to an infected tick’s blood or feces. Exposure could occur during tick removal from a human or pet.
HISTORY OF ROCKY MOUNTAIN SPOTTED FEVER
The disease was first described in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States in the late 1800s. It is most common in the south Atlantic and south central regions of the U.S. However, cases are reported from Canada, Central and South America, as well as almost all 50 states.
WHEN TICKS ARE MOST ACTIVE
April through early September, when ticks are most active, is when more individuals become infected, with medical professionals seeing the greatest number of RMSF cases in June and July.
SYMPTOMS OF ROCKY MOUNTAIN SPOTTED FEVER
- RMSF symptoms often develop within the first few days of a tick bite; however, some individuals may not experience symptoms for up to two weeks.
- Traditionally RMSF symptoms include fever (103° – 105°F), chills, headache, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, vomiting, and muscle pain.
- Distinctive RMSF rashes may develop several days after the onset of a fever, with some patients (approximately 10%) never developing a rash. The rash typically begins as little, non-itchy, pink to red spots or blotches that start on the wrists and ankles. As the rash spreads, it can continue to the palms of the hands and soles of the feet as well as move up the arms and legs and towards the core of the body.
TREATMENT OF ROCKY MOUNTAIN SPOTTED FEVER INFECTION
- When treated early with antibiotics, most cases see a full recovery.
- Doxycycline is the most commonly prescribed antibiotic for individuals of all ages.
EARLY DETECTION OF ROCKY MOUNTAIN SPOTTED FEVER IS KEY
If not diagnosed and treated within the first few days after the symptoms begin, RMSF can become a severe and sometimes fatal illness. Health care providers are urged to move forward with antibiotics when RMSF symptoms are present, and/or a significant suspicion of an RMSF infection exists.
IMPACT FROM DELAY OF ANTIBIOTICS WITH INFECTION
The delay of antibiotics, while waiting on a lab report or an initial test providing a negative presence of Rickettsia rickettsii, could result in a severe case that may lead to greater health concerns with the heart, lungs, or brain. If a petechial rash surfaces, where spots appear red to purple, this is a sign that the disease is progressing to severe. Properly educating the public on the tick vector species and taking preventive measures should be a goal in communities where RMSF cases have been reported.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN SPOTTED FEVER AND THE UNITED STATES
There are approximately 2,000 cases of RMSF reported each year in the United States. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports over 60% of RMSF cases within the U.S. are from North Carolina, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Missouri. Currently, the American dog tick is the main vector to transmit Rickettsia rickettsii in the U.S. Furthermore, with the ability for the infection to turn severe or deadly without proper diagnosis and treatment, personal preventative measures and integrated tick management (ITM) programs should be executed in endemic areas. This should be executed immediately in order to help reduce this significant public health concern.
TICK TALK ON THE DERMACENTOR GENUS
Two species of the Dermacentor genus of ticks are most responsible for the transmission of RMSF in the United States. They include Dermacentor variabilis (American dog tick) and Dermacentor andersoni (Rocky Mountain wood tick).
AMERICAN DOG TICK
The American dog tick, the primary vector of RMSF, can be found in a large portion of the U.S. These portions span east of the Rocky Mountains and around limited areas along the west coast. Also, they are found in a variety of habitats including forests, grassy open fields, and low lying brush. However, they are most likely to “quest” or search for a host in areas with high mammalian traffic, such as trails or roadsides.
WHEN AMERICAN DOG TICKS HATCH
American dog ticks hatch from eggs as 6-legged larvae then become 8-legged nymphs before reaching adulthood. A blood meal is required between each life stage and as the tick develops they move from smaller to larger hosts. The American dog tick is unique in that each developmental stage can live for great amounts of time without feeding.
HUMAN ENCOUNTERS WITH AMERICAN DOG TICKS
Humans commonly encounter the adult stage tick. During this stage, ticks can survive up to two years without a blood meal. In contrast, the American dog ticks are recognizable by their dark brown body with molted. There are often geometric patterns on the scutum (shield on the back of a hard tick). Males have a molted pattern that extends over the entire scutum. Females only display the molted pattern on the anterior portion of the scutum shield.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN DOG TICK
The Rocky Mountain wood tick is located in the Rocky Mountain states and parts of southwestern Canada. Similar to most ticks, they can be found in grassy habitats as well as slightly wooded areas.
To add, this species’ appearance is very similar to the American dog tick. Furthermore, it will also most likely choose a human host, but only during the adult stage of their lifecycle. In contrast, the species differs in that the Rocky Mountain wood tick cannot survive as long as the American dog tick without feeding between life stages.
In addition to being vectors of RMSF, the American dog tick and the Rocky Mountain wood tick are the most common culprits of tick paralysis in North America. Tick paralysis is the only tick-borne disease where an infectious agent was not the cause.
In contrast, ticks in the above two species contain a neurotoxin in their saliva that can cause paralysis in humans and pets. Furthermore, unlike other tick-borne diseases, once the tick is removed the individual’s symptoms disappear not long after.
Finally, there have also been a small number of RMSF cases where the brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, has been attributed as the vector. While this species can be found throughout the U.S., attributed cases have only been reported from states within the southwest region and along the U.S.-Mexico border.
TICK CONTROL – TENNESSEE SERVICES & LOCAL SOLUTIONS
As a result, individuals and communities should take extra precautions to avoid tick-infested areas, especially during summer months. Dog and cat owners should perform regular tick checks as well as protect them with control products or preventative medication.