Archive for the ‘Prevention’ Category

Increase in Tick Bites During COVID-19 Pandemic

Increase in tick bites during COVID-19 pandemic


In a recent article, “Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic on Reported Lyme Disease, United States, 2020,” McCormick and colleagues assessed how the pandemic might influence the risk of tick bites and affect patients seeking medical care and the reporting of Lyme disease cases.

“The data suggested that individuals were more likely to spend time outside, more likely to visit the CDC website describing tick bite removal, were less likely to visit an ER, and tested for Lyme disease,” according to the authors.¹

Approximately 50% of U.S. residents spent more time outdoors in 2020 than in 2019, but fewer tick bite–related emergency department visits and Lyme disease laboratory tests were reported, according to a survey by Porter Novelli.¹ “Only 20.9% of respondents reported spending less time outdoors in 2020.”

Furthermore, there was an 25% increase in visits to the CDC’s website page which describes tick bite removal procedures.

ED visits for tick bites

Despite an increase in tick bite exposures, there was a decrease in the number of individuals visiting the Emergency Department (ED) for tick bites and fewer tests for Lyme disease. “The largest relative decreases were observed in May,” according to the authors.

During the month of May, between 2017 and 2019, there was an average of 12,693 ED visits for tick bites. However, in May 2020, only 5,845 ED visits for tick bites occurred. And, the number of Lyme disease tests decreased by 25%.

“These findings suggest that the risk of acquiring Lyme disease was similar or potentially higher in 2020 compared with risk during prior years, but fewer persons sought care, and fewer positive laboratory reports were referred for case investigation.”

The authors point out, “Lyme disease case reporting for 2020 might be artificially reduced due to coronavirus disease–associated changes in healthcare-seeking behavior,” the authors point out.

 Editor’s perspective

I have had Lyme disease patients who have put delayed visiting the Emergency Department or their doctor’s office during the COVID-19 pandemic.  I’ve also had Lyme disease patients who were initially tested for COVID-19 but not Lyme disease. Their treatment for Lyme disease was delayed, making it more difficult to treat them.

How to Create An Outdoor Tick Kit

Get Tick-Ready: How to Create an Outdoor Tick Kit

by Jenny Lelwica Buttaccio
Updated 8/06/21

With summer in full swing, news articles and reports abound with almost daily warnings throughout the country about the dangers of ticks, the diseases they carry, and how to prevent tick bites. The word, it seems, is spreading about the threat tick-borne diseases pose to human health. However, as public awareness about ticks grows, people are left wondering if there’s more they can do to protect themselves when they’re outside.

Tick crawling on finger. The concept of danger of tick bite.

Additionally, for people with a history of Lyme disease and coinfections like babesia, bartonella, and more, going back out into nature can, understandably, be a scary experience. But there are ways to ease the transition and overcome fear. One strategy we’ve found particularly helpful to prepare for spending time outdoors is to create a tick kit — a set of portable and inexpensive tools to take with you in case you should need to remove an embedded tick promptly.

To help with the planning process, we’ve developed a series of infographics highlighting the items you might want to include in your tick kit. We’ve also added a list of resources for tick testing and a handy DIY tick repellent blend so that you have options for protecting yourself and your family. Although we can’t alleviate every risk for ticks, tick bites, and tick-borne diseases like Lyme, we can assist you in becoming more tick-ready so you can continue to enjoy the great outdoors in whatever way is most comfortable to you.

tick kit essentials: tweezers, cotton ball, scissors, magnifying glass, tick repellant, sealable container, alcohol pads, rubber gloves

Tick Kit Essentials

The following items can be placed inside a durable pouch to create your own tick kit for on-the-go adventures or relaxing outdoors.

  • Fine-Pointed Tweezers
  • Cotton ball
  • Small scissors to trim hair or fur
  • Magnifying glass to locate the tick
  • Tick repellent
  • Container or small sealable bag to hold a tick after removal
  • Alcohol pad to clean the site of the bite
  • Rubber gloves

Other items to consider are a tick identification card, which is available online from retailers and nonprofit organizations for a small fee, a pocket mirror for hard-to-see areas, and a tick comb for your pet. Arrange the items in a zip-up pouch or bag, and carry them with you wherever you go.

DIY lemon eucalyptus tick repellant: 30 drops oil, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 4oz witch hazel

DIY Lemon Eucalyptus Tick Repellent

Looking for a tick repellent that you can make yourself? Research suggests oil of lemon eucalyptus with a preparation of 30% may be as effective as DEET at preventing mosquito and tick bites. You can make your own to keep on hand with the following ingredients:

  • 30 drops of oil of lemon eucalyptus
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces of witch hazel, apple cider vinegar, or vodka

Mix ingredients together in a bottle, and apply the repellent to exposed skin. Natural tick repellents must be reapplied more often than tick repellants made from chemicals, so consider a touch-up every two hours or so.

tick testing options: tick check, igenex, tick report, ticknology

Ticks Testing Options

When you remove a tick that’s bitten you or another person, store it in your tick container or plastic bag and consider sending it out to be tested for tick-borne diseases. Tick testing doesn’t cover all microbe possibilities, but many companies will evaluate for the most common pathogenic species of borrelia, bartonella, babesia, ehrlichia, among others. However, they do charge a fee. Additionally, local or state agencies, such as universities, may offer tick testing at little to no cost as part of research and data collection projects, but those programs will vary from state to state.

  • TickCheck: TickCheck will test for multiple pathogens, including borrelia, anaplasma, babesia, bartonella, Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), and more.
  • IGenex: IGenex offers testing for pathogens like borrelia, tick-borne relapsing fever (TBRF), babesia, anaplasma, ehrlichia, bartonella, and rickettsia.
  • TickReport: With results in 72 hours, TickReport test microbes, such as various species of borrelia, rickettsia, babesia, ehrlichia, and more.
  • Ticknology: Ticknology tests for multiple strains of borrelia, as well as babesia, bartonella, RMSF, ehrlichia, and other microbes.

Please note: Tick testing is not a replacement for diagnostic Lyme disease testing. If you’ve been bitten by a tick or suspect you’ve been bitten, please consult with your healthcare provider about proper treatment and a plan of care.

The Takeaway

We can’t eliminate every opportunity to come in contact with ticks, but we can control how prepared we are in the event that a tick bite occurs. So, get yourself tick-ready by creating your own tick kit, then head outdoors to soak up the rest of the summer sun and absorb the healing potential of nature.

Dr. Rawls is a physician who overcame Lyme disease through natural herbal therapy. You can learn more about Lyme disease in Dr. Rawls’ new best selling book, Unlocking Lyme.

You can also learn about Dr. Rawls’ personal journey in overcoming Lyme disease and fibromyalgia in his popular blog post, My Chronic Lyme Journey.



Great ideas presented here.  Personally I would use permethrin on clothing and picaradin upon skin as those two things have been studied extensively. There isn’t that much research on natural products and when you consider the risk/benefit ratio, I’d use what has been proven to work.

Tick prevention is really a multi-pronged issue involving you, any pets, and landscaping:

Acaricides Work for Asian Long-horned Ticks

Spray and Pour-On Acaricides Killed Tennessee (United States) Field-Collected Haemaphysalis longicornis Nymphs (Acari: Ixodidae) in Laboratory Bioassays

Journal of Medical Entomology, tjab115,
Published:  01 July 2021


Haemaphysalis longicornis Neumann (Asian longhorned tick) is an exotic and invasive tick species presenting a health and economic threat to the United States (U.S.) cattle industry due to its ability to transmit pathogens and infest hosts in large numbers. The objective of this study was to evaluate available products at causing H. longicornis mortality in a laboratory bioassay. The efficacy of products was evaluated at label rates using H. longicornis nymphs collected from a cattle farm in eastern Tennessee in two different bioassays (spray or dip) against untreated controls. After exposure, ticks were transferred to clean petri dishes and checked for mortality at 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 21, 24, and 48 h post exposure. No mortality occurred in the untreated controls, whereas all treated ticks were dead within 24 h of exposure (P < 0.0001). These findings support the hypothesis that currently available spray and pour-on products are effective at causing H. longicornis mortality. We conclude that these acaricides can be used as a component to prevent H. longicornis dispersal and for control in the U.S.

Commonly Used Acaricides Found Effective on Invasive Tick

Haemaphysalis longicornis tick

The Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis), an invasive species in the U.S., is a threat to cattle and other livestock. A new study finds several pesticides used to manage other tick species are equally effective against the new arrival. (Photo by danabarb via iNaturalist, CC BY-NC 4.0)

By Andrew Porterfield

The Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis), a long-time cattle parasite in Asia, New Zealand and Australia, was discovered in the U.S. on a sheep in New Jersey in 2017, though the tick may have been in the country years earlier. Like too many invasive exotic species, it spread quickly and is now found in several eastern U.S. states. Also like invasive, exotic species, there is always a risk that it could evade eradication methods used on other ticks.

(See link for article)


Important excerpt:

None of the ticks in a control group were killed, while all treated ticks were dead within 24 hours. “It was surprising that products used in this study caused mortality so quickly after the ticks were exposed,” says Butler.

For more:

Mosquito Resistant Clothing Prevents Bites in Trials

Mosquito-Resistant Clothing Prevents Bites in Trials

Bite-resistant textiles
Mosquitoes landing on bite-resistant fabric during an in vivo bioassay in which they fail to probe through the fabric due to its small pore size. The proboscis bends when mosquitoes try to push through the fabric. Credit: Matt Bertone.
R. Michael Roe
Grayson Cave
Laura Oleniacz, NC State News Services

North Carolina State University researchers have created insecticide-free, mosquito-resistant clothing using textile materials they confirmed to be bite-proof in experiments with live mosquitoes. They developed the materials using a computational model of their own design, which describes the biting behavior of Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that carries viruses that cause human diseases like Zika, Dengue fever and yellow fever.

Ultimately, the researchers reported in the journal Insects that they were able to prevent 100 percent of bites when a volunteer wore their clothing – a base layer undergarment and a combat shirt initially designed for the military – in a cage with 200 live, disease-free mosquitoes. Vector Textiles, an NC State startup company, has licensed the related patent rights and intends to make clothing for commercial sale in the United States.

The researchers think their computational model could be used more widely to develop clothing to reduce transmission of diseases.

“The fabric is proven to work – that’s the great thing we discovered,” said study co-author Andre West, associate professor of fashion and textile design at NC State and director of Zeis Textiles Extension for Economic Development. “To me, that’s revolutionary. We found we can prevent the mosquito from pushing through the fabric, while others were thick enough to prevent it from reaching the skin.”

To develop the computational model to design textile materials that could prevent A. aegypti bites, researchers investigated the dimensions of the head, antenna and mouth of A. aegypti, and the mechanics of how it bites. Then, they used the model to predict textile materials that would prevent bites, depending on their thickness and pore size. Researchers said they believe the materials could be effective against other mosquito species in addition to A. aegypti because of similarities in biology and biting behavior.

“There are different uses for clothing,” said the study’s first author Kun Luan, postdoctoral research scholar of forest biomaterials at NC State. “The idea is to have a model that will cover all possible garments that a person would ever want.”

To test the accuracy of their model, the researchers tested the materials predicted to be bite-proof. In experiments with live, disease-free mosquitoes, the researchers surrounded a blood reservoir with plastic materials made according to parameters predicted by the model. They then counted how many mosquitoes became engorged with blood.

One material they initially tested was very thin – less than one millimeter thick – but had a very small pore size to prevent the mosquito from sticking its mouth parts, or proboscis, through the material. Another material had a medium pore size to prevent the mosquito from inserting its head through the textile far enough to reach the skin; and a third material had larger pores, but was sufficiently thick that the mosquito’s mouth still couldn’t reach the skin.

In a subsequent test, the researchers chose a series of knitted and woven fabrics that met the bite-proof parameters determined by the model, and validated they worked in experiments using both the blood reservoir and human volunteers. The researchers tested the number of bites received by volunteers when study participants inserted an arm covered by a protective sleeve into a mosquito cage. The researchers also compared the fabrics’ ability to prevent bites and repel mosquitoes to fabrics treated with an insecticide.

From what they learned in early experiments, researchers developed the bite-resistant, form-fitting undergarment made with a thin material, as well as a long-sleeved shirt, which was initially envisioned as a combat shirt for the military.

When a volunteer wore the garments sitting for 10 minutes and standing for 10 minutes in a walk-in cage with 200 hungry mosquitos, the volunteer found the combat shirt was 100 percent effective at preventing bites. In the first trial testing the base layer, the volunteer received bites on the back and shoulders – seven bites for 200 mosquitoes. The researchers attributed the bites to the fabric stretching and deforming, so they doubled the material layer around the shoulders, and were ultimately able to prevent 100 percent of bites. They also tested the clothing for comfort, and to see how well it trapped heat and released moisture.

“The final garments that were produced were 100 percent bite-resistant,” said Michael Roe, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Entomology at NC State. “Everyday clothing you wear in the summer is not bite-resistant to mosquitoes. Our work has shown that it doesn’t have to be that way. Clothes that you wear every day can be made bite-resistant. Ultimately, the idea is to have a model that will cover all possible garments that person would ever want – both for the military as well as for private use.”

The study, “Mosquito-textile physics: A mathematical roadmap to insecticide-free, bite-proof clothing for everyday life,” was published online July 13, 2021, in the journal Insects. It was authored by Luan, Roe, West, Charles Apperson, Marian McCord, Emiel DenHartog, Quan Shi, Nicholas Travanty, Robert Mitchell, Grayson Cave, John Strider and Youngxin Wang from NC State University and Isa Bettermann, Florian Neumann and Tobias Beck from Aachen University, Germany. The study was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense Deployed War Fighter Program, Natick Contracting Division of the U.S. Department of Defense, the Chancellor’s Innovation Fund at NC State, the Southeast Center for Agricultural Health and Injury Prevention, PILOTS and the NC Agriculture Research Experiment Station.


Note to editors: The abstract follows.

“Mosquito-textile physics: A mathematical roadmap to insecticide-free, bite-proof clothing for everyday life”

Authors: Kun Luan, Andre J. West, Marian G. McCord, Emiel DenHartog, Quan Shi, Isa Bettermann, Jiayin Li, Nicholas V. Travanty, Robert D. Mitchell III, Grayson L. Cave, John B. Strider, Yongxin Wang, Florian Neumann, Tobias Beck, Charles S. Apperson and R. Michael Roe.

Published online in Insects on July 13, 2021.

DOI: 10.3390/insects12070636

Abstract: Garments treated with chemical insecticides are commonly used to prevent mosquito bites. Resistance to insecticides, however, is threatening the efficacy of this technology, and people are increasingly concerned about the potential health impacts of wearing insecticide-treated clothing. Here, we report a mathematical model for fabric barriers that resist bites from

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes based on textile physical structure and no insecticides. The model was derived from mosquito morphometrics and analysis of mosquito biting behavior. Precision polypropylene plates were first used to simulate woven and knitted fabrics for model validation.

Then based on model predictions, prototype knitted textiles and garments were developed that prevented mosquito biting and were tested for comfort. Our predictive model can be used to develop additional textiles in the future for garments that are highly bite-resistant to mosquitoes.


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IPM Tick Academy in September

Tick IPM Working Group Presenting Second Annual Tick Academy

IPM tick academyThe Tick IPM Working Group is presenting the second annual Tick Academy, September 13-15, 2021 from 10 AM until 2 PM each day.

The Tick Academy is the premier event for educators, students, researchers, pest control professionals, public health professionals, public-space managers, and citizen scientists, who want to learn more about what they can do to stop the spread of ticks and tickborne diseases in their respective communities.

The event will take place virtually and will feature twelve presentations over three, four-hour sessions during which the presenters will share the latest information about:

  • tick management
  • tickborne disease prevention
  • recent discoveries of emerging pathogens
  • public perceptions of risk, diversity, identification of ticks
  • ongoing research on control and vaccine developments

For more details, please view the Tick Academy Announcement Flyer.

To register for this virtual event, click the registration link at the bottom of the flyer or visit

For more IPM information: IPM Pest Alert-Asian longhorned tick