The Charleston and West Ashley area is loved by natives and tourists alike because of its abundance of outdoor living opportunities. The weather’s great year-round, and there are plenty of ways to explore the outdoors and the coast no matter the season. Whether it is basking in the Lowcountry charm of the local islands, fishing, hiking, or entertaining guests in your own backyard, there is always something to do!
Amid all the pros of living in such a wonderful coastal environment, one of the cons is the insects love it too! Mosquitoes and ticks are a constant concern because of the discomfort they cause and the dangers they pose from vector-borne illness. Many residents assume that there is little danger of contracting a tick-borne illness in the Southeastern United States — which is certainly not the case. Mosquito Squad of Greater Charleston protects not only from mosquitoes but the same treatment is also equally as effective in eliminating ticks. That’s right. Once you use the Mosquito Squad treatment for mosquitoes, your yard is also protected against ticks.
Know Your Tick!
Ticks pose an ever-present risk in the Charleston and West Ashley area and along the coastal areas of Edisto, Kiawah, Seabrook and John’s Island. The most prevalent ticks species in South Carolina are the American Dog Tick, Brown Dog Tick, Blacklegged Tick (Deer Tick) and the Lone Star Tick.
The Amercian Dog and Brown Dog Tick is responsible for the spread of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. and Tularemia. Both are potential risks, however, the Brown Dog Tick is common on dogs but rarely bites humans.
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is an illness caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi which is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected black-legged (Ixodes scapularis) tick, commonly known
as the “deer tick.” Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States.It is most common in the spring and summer months. Lyme Disease is rare but does occur in South Carolina. From 2000 – 2015 there have been 465 confirmed cases of Lyme Disease in the state.
— The trademark bull’s eye rash of Lyme Disease (erythema migrans or EM). This rash occurs in 70-80% of Lyme cases, according to the CDC.
Symptoms include a bulls-eye rash at the site where the tick was attached, fever, headache, and muscle or joint pain. Some people have a fever and flu-like symptoms without a rash. If the bacteria spreads people could experience other symptoms such as pain that moves from joint to joint, rashes on other parts of the body, or inflammation of the heart or nerves. If the disease is not treated some patients can get additional symptoms such as swelling and pain in joints or even experience mental changes months after being infected.
What is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever?
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), is a disease caused by a bacterium spread through the bite of a dog tick. Early signs and symptoms of the disease can include the onset of fever, headache and muscle pain, and sometimes nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and appetite loss. RMSF is sometimes followed by the development of a spotty rash in 90% of patients. If a rash does appear, it is typically noticed on wrists and ankles initially and then spreads to the entire body. Symptoms of RMSF can appear from 2-14 days after the initial tick bite.
The flu-like symptoms make the disease difficult to diagnose in the early stages especially without a rash or prior knowledge of a tick bite. The disease can be fatal if not treated quickly and appropriately. Even with treatment, the disease can sometimes be fatal. Dogs can also become infected with RMSF. Early removal of attached ticks can prevent RMSF because 12-24 hours is required to reactivate the bacterium in the tick’s tissue before transmission can occur. (According to Clemson.edu).
What is Tularemia?
Tularemia is a rare infectious disease caused by a bacterium transmitted through the bite of infected ticks and deer flies or through handling an infected animal carcass such as when skinning a rabbit. In South Carolina, the ticks that transmit this bacterium are the American Dog and Lone Star Tick. Symptoms typically begin 3-5 days following the bite of an infected tick and can include chills, headache, coughing, muscle aches, vomiting, repeated spikes of severe fever and swollen lymph nodes.
The Deer Tick is probably the most infamous of all the tick species. This is mainly because of the multiple diseases it is capable of transmitting. It is responsible for the spread of Lyme Disease, Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis and the newcomer of tick-borne illness, Powasson Virus.
What are Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis?
Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis are two additional tick-borne illnesses that are also spread through the bite of an infected deer tick.
Babesiosis, also known as Nantucket fever, is a malaria-like parasitic disease that is primarily spread through the bite of a tick carrying the disease. Babesias are malaria-like protozoans that parasitize and reproduce within mammalian red blood cells. In some circumstances, Babesiosis has been known to be transmitted through blood transfusions as well.
Ehrlichiosis is a disease of both animals and humans caused by several bacteria in the genus Ehrlichia and Anaplasma. Two main forms of Ehrlichiosis in humans are currently recognized in the United States; Human Monocytic Ehrlichiosis (HME), and Human Granulocytic Ehrlichiosis (HGE).
The Deer Tick is also capable of infecting an individual with two tick-borne illnesses at once, this is referred to as comorbidity. Though these illnesses are not as common as Lyme Disease they are regarded as a double threat because of their ability to infect in addition to Lyme Disease. This type of infection is called a comorbid tick-borne illness and is common with Lyme Disease and Babesiosis, and Lyme Disease and Ehrlichiosis comorbidity combinations.
What is Anaplasmosis?
Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis are two closely related tick-borne diseases, although caused by different germs. Indeed the illness was so similar in nature it was previously referred to as Ehrlichiosis. A taxonomic change in 2001 identified that this organism belonged to the genus Anaplasma, and resulted in a change in the name of the disease to Anaplasmosis. The disease is caused by a species of bacteria called Anaplasma phagocytophilum which is spread to humans through the bite of a deer tick carrying the bacteria. Most cases occur in the spring and summer months. During this time, residents are more likely to come into direct contact with the nymph deer tick here in SC. Although adult deer ticks are capable of spreading the disease, they are more easy to identify and remove before infection is possible.
What is Powassan Virus?
Powassan (POW) virus is an RNA virus that belongs to the genus Flavivirus. It is related to West Nile, St. Louis encephalitis, and Tick-borne encephalitis viruses and is one of the newest tick-borne illnesses to make headlines. Humans become infected with POW virus from the bite of an infected tick. Humans do not develop high enough concentrations of POW virus in their bloodstreams to infect feeding ticks. Humans are therefore considered to be “dead-end” hosts of the virus. POW can be asymptomatic in many but can also develop fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, loss of coordination, speech difficulties, and seizures. Symptoms, if any, can appear 1 week to 1 month following the onset of infection. This virus can infect the central nervous system and cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord).
The Lone Star Tick causes Southern Tick-Associated Rash Infection (STARI), Heartland Virus and Ehrlichiosis.
What is Southern Tick-Associated Rash Infection?
STARI is an emerging tick-borne disease that results in a rash similar to that seen with Lyme disease. It begins as a red, expanding “bullseye” open sore that develops around the site of the bite of a Lone Star Tick. This rash usually appears within 7 days of the tick bite and expands to a diameter of 3 inches or more. The rash may occur with fatigue, fever, headache, muscle and joint pain.
STARI has not been linked with chronic problems such as those associated with Lyme disease.
What is Heartland Virus?
— Heartland Virus Disease cases by state, from CDC, as of July 2017.
Don’t let its innocuous name fool you, Heartland Virus is spread through the bite of an infected Lone Star Tick. Cases of the virus have been identified in the Midwestern and southern United States. Signs and symptoms of infection are similar to those of other tickborne infections and can include fever, headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, and diarrhea. As of July 2017, more than 30 cases of Heartland Virus have been reported from states in the Midwestern and southern United States. Confirmed cases have been reporting in our neighboring states of North Carolina and Georgia. Most people diagnosed with the disease became sick May through September. Heartland Virus is not currently a notifiable disease.
Prevention is Key
The best way to reduce your risk of being infected with any tick-borne illness or disease is to prevent tick bites. Our barrier control treatment is the first line of defense against ticks and their accompanying risks.Exercising control and prevention on your property and being smart about the realities of ticks when venturing into non-treated areas is key to staying healthy and free of the risk of tick-borne illnesses at your Charleston or West Ashley home. Along with keeping your lawn mowed, trimmed and free of tall grasses and debris, We also recommend having your property treated by a licensed professional to control ticks.
Call us today at (843) 574-8919 today or email us.
Owner Brent Tatum and family