The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors declared 2012, Lyme Disease Awareness Year, and produced a 10-point action plan to support the community. This is in part due to the fact there were 261 reported cases of Lyme disease in Loudoun County in 2011, up 15% from 2010.
If you are a newcomer to the area or have lived here a long time you know by now that we have a lot of ticks which can be a carrier of several diseases, most notably, Lyme.
At Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, we spend so much time in the outdoors and understand that by being in certain habitats we expose ourselves to ticks – and we don’t like ticks either!
Below are the personal precautions we follow:
1. Dress appropriately. Wear a full brimmed hat, light colored clothes (to help spot ticks), long pants, and a long sleeved shirt. Considerbuying clothing that has been treated with Permethrin, available at local outdoor stores such as Eastern Mountain Sports, REI, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Several of us treat our clothes with Permethrin, commonly available at local gardening stores and online, of course please read and follow the application instructions.
2. Avoid tall grass. Ticks wait in long grass, jumping on animals and humans after sensing our heat and movement.
3. Some of us who like an additional layer of protection use an insect repellent that contains DEET. Please read and follow all instructions and precautions.
4. Thoroughly check yourself for ticks after you have been outside. Take a shower and wash and dry your clothes. It is very difficult to drown a tick but you can easily kill them with the high heat of a clothes dryer.
5. If you are a pet owner the best thing to do to prevent ticks is to follow your veterinarians’ instructions, keep your cats indoors, and keep your dogs out of the tall grass while on walks.
6. If you find a tick on you after being outdoors don’t panic. The best way to remove a tick is to pull it off gently, leaving the tick and its mouth parts intact. Here is a good overview on removing them: http://firstaid.webmd.com/tc/how-to-remove-a-tick-overview
As referenced on the Loudoun County website in the Tick Handbook: “Checking for ticks and prompt removal of attached ticks is probably the most important and effective method of preventing infection!”
That said, please be aware that as part of the county’s action plan, they have decided to spray several parks (click here for a list) with a pesticide called Talstar A, which contains the active ingredient, bifenthrin. Bifenthrin interferes with the nervous system of insects when they eat or touch it. It’s more toxic to insects than it is to people because insects have lower body temperatures and smaller body size. Bifenthrin is not likely to reach groundwater because it binds tightly to soil. However, soil-bound bifenthrin has the potential to contaminate surface waters through runoff. Bifenthrin on soil surfaces is unlikely to become airborne.
Can bifenthrin affect birds, fish, or other wildlife? Bifenthrin is highly toxic to fish, small aquatic organisms, and bees, and moderately toxic to birds. There are potential risks for birds and mammals that eat aquatic organisms because bifenthrin can last a long time in the environment and it may accumulate in fish. (reference: http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/bifgen.html ).
Bifenthrin is classified by the EPA as a Class C carcinogen. The manufacturer of Talstar, states, “Potential Human Health Effects from overexposure may result from either swallowing, inhaling or coming into contact with the skin or eyes. Symptoms of overexposure include bleeding from the nose, tremors and convulsions. Contact with bifenthrin may occasionally produce skin sensations such as rashes, numbing, burning or tingling. These skin sensations are reversible and usually subside within 12 hours.
Please contact your HOA for information on potential local community spraying.
If you’re interested in additional information, go to http://www.loudoun.gov/index.aspx?NID=1273.
Additionally, one of the more comprehensive documents produced in 2007 by several Connecticut state health agencies can be found on the on the following link: http://www.ct.gov/caes/lib/caes/documents/publications/bulletins/b1010.pdf