Experts are predicting an outbreak of Lyme disease this year that will be unprecedented in scope. Blame the increase on factors such as the increased number of mice, the surge in deer population and climate change. Add to that, fewer foxes, hawks and owls to eat the mice. And it has been said that “ticks love mice…an individual mouse might have 50, 60 even 100 ticks covering its ears and face”!
We tend to think of tick season beginning in the spring. They are active, however, anytime the outdoor temperature is above freezing. Year-round prevention is key. Thus, you are reminded to be pro-active in your efforts to reduce the risk of tick-borne disease such as Lyme disease, ehrlichia and anaplasmosis. Be extra vigilent in the warmer months when ticks are most active. This dreaded nuisance is second only to mosquitoes in transmitting disease. And did you know that a single tick can lay 3000 eggs?
Keeping pastures and grass mowed low, removing brush and wood piles and other debris will help to decrease the tick population. Daily routine checks for ticks on your animals (and on your own body) will minimize the risk of transmission of either the bacteria or virus. On horses, they are most often found around the head, throatlatch area, the belly and under the tail. Your veterinarian should be contacted if any symptoms appear. Fever may or may not be present. Emphasis is on early diagnosis and treatment which is important to recovery from any illness.
Evolution has given these parasites much power. “Ticks are great vectors because of their ability to be persistent bloodsuckers that attach firmly and feed slowly,” says Dr. Richard Gerhold, DVM. Add to this, he says, the fact that ticks have long lifespans, have a wide geographical distribution, are resistant to environmental conditions, have high reproductive potential and can pass infective agents to the next generation through their eggs or through successive stages.
Those of you who have a horse mortality insurance policy are reminded to give prompt notice to the insurance company and your agent of any illness. Failure to give timely notice as required in the policy terms and conditions could result in denial of the claim.