Hunters have always had a disproportionate number of run-ins with ticks and tick-borne diseases given the amount of time they spend in the woods. What’s new, however, is the increased number of encounters they’re dealing with in their own backyards. Couple this with surging reports of Lyme disease cases and you have people in an all-out war against this blood-sucking pest.
The New York Post calls this spring “the brink of an epic Lyme Disease Outbreak,” while the New Scientist reports Lyme is “set to explode” and Shape Magazine headlines its news story with, “Lyme Disease Is About to Spike Hard This Summer.”
When it comes to disease of any kind, “spiking hard” is not what you want.
By the Numbers
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme Disease in the US every year.
Up to 90 percent of all cases go undiagnosed.
There is no number for “debilitating.”
This disease is tough to diagnose (not all of those infected are “lucky enough” to get the conclusive and tell-tale bullseye rash associated with Lyme disease). Debilitating symptoms include fatigue, sleep impairment, joint pain, muscle aches, depression, cognitive impairment, neuropathy and headaches.
5 to 9
The CDC reports that young boys — ages 5 to 9 — are most at risk of contracting Lyme disease. Men ages 40 to 60 are the next group most at risk. (Source: CDC)
Lyme disease is concentrated in 14 states, but spreading to neighboring states.
The number of months, May to August, when most people get Lyme disease from ticks.
Q&A With Thermacell’s Allegra Lowitt
In light of the increasing Lyme problem, Thermacell Repellents, Inc. — well-known for their mosquito protection products — created a solution to combat ticks and Lyme disease. It’s an unusual approach because the company’s product, Tick Control Tubes, is not spray-based. Instead, this tick solution for yards and hunt camps works with nature (and mice) to kill ticks early in the disease carriers’ lifecycle.
Thermacell has been working hard to bring this product to market, and as a result, have acquired expert-level knowledge about ticks, how to get rid of them and to protect families and their backyards. Grand View Outdoors contacted Allegra Lowitt, the general manager of the company’s tick division, to learn more.
GVO: Thermacell recently introduced a new product to combat backyard ticks. Has this made you a bit of an expert on America’s tick and Lyme problem?
Allegra Lowitt: It’s fair to say I’ve spent more time reading and learning about ticks and Lyme disease than I would have ever imagined (laughs).
GVO: Is it also fair to say you’re kind of into ticks? Because your voice is carrying some enthusiasm and that comes as a surprise, at least for me. I mean, it’s ticks and disease we’re talking about.
AL: Yeah, well I’ve already worked with mosquitos for 15 years, so I’m pretty into getting rid of pests. And Lyme disease is a major problem in the U.S. with over 300,000 cases EVERY YEAR, making it the No. 1 vector-borne disease in the U.S.
And the big thing that propelled Thermacell into this market, the thing that makes it important and engaging to me personally is this: tick tubes help make yards safer. Look, most people get Lyme in the summer from these tiny nymphal ticks the size of a poppy seed. They are so small, we just don’t see them. According to the CDC, we get these ticks from our own property – while we play in the yard, garden, and do yard chores. And Thermacell Tick Control Tubes can kill nymphal ticks and help rid the yard of ticks that carry dangerous diseases.
GVO: You’ve mention mice. Can you explain the relationship between ticks, mice and Lyme?
AL: Nymphal ticks hatch in May. So, you have these young ticks looking to eat, and they feed primarily on mice. And it’s the mice that are the primary Lyme disease carriers. They infect 95 percent of the ticks that feed on them. Then, once ticks become adults, they feed on deer, pets and humans. The idea is to target ticks at the nymphal and larval stage. And that’s what our Tick Tubes do.
GVO: So, Thermacell uses the mice to kill the ticks?
AL: Right. The Thermacell Tick Control Tubes contain a material treated with permethrin. And permethrin is recommended by the CDC to kill ticks. The permethrin is bound with the material, and mice love to use this fluffy material for their nests. So when they come across it, they collect it and bring it to their nests., which are often underground.
GVO: So, the young ticks seek out the mice as their food source and bring them back to their nests —
AL: And these nests are treated with permethrin, so the ticks dies. Pretty nifty, right? I love the way this product understands the tick lifecycle and mouse habits and harnesses nature to turn mice from tick hosts into tick killers.
GVO: There were questions on Thermacell’s Facebook page about the safety of the Tick Control Tubes. One woman asked if the material was harmful to children and several people asked if it could be harmful to bees. How do you answer those concerns?
AL: Because of how the Tick Tubes work, the treated material only targets ticks not friendly insects. And the tube’s material goes underground where sprays and granules can’t reach. Plus, you avoid spraying chemicals in your yard. When used as directed, it’s an environmentally friendly solution that doesn’t harm children or pets.
2017 Media Coverage and Resources on Lyme Disease
Concern over surging Lyme disease cases has been widely covered by U.S. media outlets. The CDC has also made information available to educate the U.S. population about the threats of contracting this tick-borne disease.
For further reading, Grand View Outdoors has compiled a list of resources.
USA Today: Why 2017 may be a Very Bad Year for Lyme Disease
National Public Radio: Forbidding Forecast for Lyme Disease In the Northeast
National Science Foundation: Lyme Disease on the Rise
New York Post: We’re on the Brink of an Epic Lyme Disease Outbreak
CNBC: One Sign That 2017 Will Be a Bad Year for Lyme Disease
New Scientist: Lyme Disease Is Set to Explode and We Still Don’t Have a Vaccine
Shape Magazine: Lyme Disease Is About to Spike Hard This Summer
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Lyme Disease Data and Statistics
For more information on Thermacell Tick Control Tubes, go here.