This year is shaping up to be an extremely bad year for ticks in Upstate New York, and many pest control experts are concerned that it’s going to be a bad year for tick-borne diseases, too. With the notable exception of Lyme disease, most tick-borne diseases traditionally don’t cause concern because they aren’t carried by ticks that bite humans. However, recently these diseases have been found in deer ticks, which do have a knack for feeding on humans.
In particular, public health officials in New York are warning about Powassan disease, which is a rare but far more dangerous form of Lyme disease. Powassan causes inflammation of the brain and can lead to death or permanent disability in 60% of cases. There is no real treatment known.
That is not to say that Lyme is not a serious disease by itself. To highlight just how serious this disease is, USA Today recently published a story written by the mother of a young girl who suffers daily from Lyme disease. The first-hand account is a terrifying look into how these tick-related diseases can affect families.
Jamie Buss, a mother from the Rochester, NY area, described how her 8-year-old daughter Ella suffered from mysterious headaches and joint pain, which eventually culminated in a positive test for Lyme disease. But when Ella’s symptoms continued to worsen, Buss struggled to find a doctor who could even treat her daughter’s disease.
But not even one Lyme-literate doctor practiced near our Rochester, N.Y., suburb, so we had to travel 4½ hours for an appointment. After more rounds of blood work, tests showed that Ella suffered not only from Lyme, but also two other tick-related diseases, co-infections further complicating her path to recovery.
While I would like to tell you that things have gotten far better, I just can’t. This winter, our second since her official diagnosis, brought on the worst pain she has experienced yet.
In a span of a few months, she either arrived to school late, left early or didn’t go at all 40% of the time.
As temperatures continue to rise and New York kids enjoy summer break, the unusually severe tick season will put more people at risk of Lyme and Powassan disease. Already, Americans are spending billions of dollars each year on pest control services. Around the country, U.S. residents spend upwards of $2 billion fighting termites, while billions more are spent fighting bed bugs, ants, stinging insects, and other pests.
And when it comes to ticks, prevention is the best medicine.
This year is looking to be the worst tick season in years, and pest control experts agree that it is especially important to pay attention and take precautions against potential risks.
Some symptoms of Lyme disease are:
- Various types of headaches.
- Blurred and double vision, insomnia, and concentration problems.
- Feeling of needles in feet when walking.
- Something akin to an asthma attack.
- Stomach pain and chest pains so severe it is hard to stand straight.
To avoid tick-borne diseases, experts recommend taking two crucial steps: treat any family pets for ticks and apply tick-repellent before spending time outdoors in tick-infested areas.
Experts also state that, upon discovering a tick, one should “use a set of tweezers to pull it upward and out of the skin, then consider sending it to a lab for testing.” This is to be sure that there are no diseases like Lyme that may spread to the bitten individual.