Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Lyme Disease’

guineas-big_group_of_guineas202

Photo: Scott Hess/Flickr
Guinea fowl, which like to forage for ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, beetles, spiders, and more, can help protect your family from Lyme Disease.

In our family we have had reason to worry about deer ticks. Nearly everyone has had Lyme Disease at some point or at least found a tick attached and taken Doxycycline just in case. We’re always on the alert for stories about the latest vaccine research or new preventive sprays. I myself wear long pants and socks all summer.

What is the long-term solution? Some people promote expanded deer hunting or experimenting with ways to keep deer from reproducing. I like this idea from New Hampshire: guinea fowl.

A great radio show called Living on Earth has the story.

“Some homeowners in the thick of tick country are turning to guinea fowl to control ticks. Living on Earth’s Jenni Doering reports from Exeter, New Hampshire, about one family’s experience with these tick-eating machines. …

“More than 40,000 new cases of Lyme were reported in 2017, and climate change could make it even more common. A recent study found that a temperature increase of just 2 degrees Celsius could result in a 20 percent increase in Lyme disease cases in the U.S. Luckily, there are proven ways to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease: wear long sleeved clothing, use repellents, and do a thorough tick check after you’ve been in the woods. …

“JENNI DOERING: Suzy and Hazel Koff live an enchanted childhood.
On a warm July day the 6 and 3 year olds run through the sun-dappled forest in their New Hampshire backyard. … Their mother, Sarah, says this is how they spend their summer.

“KOFF: We love going outside playing in the woods. We have this great big yard that they play in and we have a sandbox out here and slack line and all sorts of things; we like to make fairy houses, and we like to garden together. …

“DOERING: But in the Northeast, where there are woods, there are ticks. A lot of them.

“KOFF: I was so, just, overwhelmed by the ticks in our yard. … I’m such a big gardener, there’s no way I was willing to spray anything on the lawn or use any sort of chemicals at all, so I thought I would try this biological control. …

“DOERING:  Enter the guinea fowl. Native to Africa, guineas are rather awkward, football-shaped birds with a tiny head, and a voracious appetite for ticks. And unlike chickens, guinea fowl won’t peck at your garden greens. So Sarah decided to give them a try.

“KOFF: Yeah, I just went on Craigslist. … As soon as we started letting them out they were immediately interested in pecking, pecking and pecking. So yeah, they were just sort of tearing up all the bugs! … They’re not pets. They’re sort of wild animals that you just have. … I haven’t seen any ticks on the kids since we’ve let the guineas go roam around. …

“DOERING: A small 1992 study on Long Island backs up Sarah’s observation.
Researchers placed guinea fowl into tick-infested areas and found that they significantly reduced the adult tick population within the enclosures. But Howard Ginsberg, a research ecologist with the Department of Interior, points out a problem with timing.

“GINSBERG: Most people get Lyme disease during June and July when the nymphs are out, and the nymphs are in the woods. The adults, which are the stage that’s targeted by these birds, [are] out in the fall and spring, out in open areas like people’s lawn. …

“DOERING: A single female deer tick can lay as many as 2,000 eggs, so removing adult ticks does appear to reduce local Lyme disease risk overall. Fortunately, even if a tick latches on to you, Ginsberg says time is on your side.

“GINSBERG: Lyme disease, that bacterium requires something like 24 to 48 hours with tick attachment before it’s transmitted. So if you do a check every day when you get back from the woods and remove ticks, you have eliminated the possibility of Lyme disease fairly substantially. … The best way to remove a tick is to just take fine tweezers, just grab as close to the skin line as possible, and slowly pull it straight out.

“DOERING: Then, take some rubbing alcohol and clean the bite thoroughly.
And get that tick safely out of your life by flushing it down the toilet.”

Meanwhile, the search goes on for long-lasting solutions to the Lyme Disease problem.

More at Living on Earth, here., where you can also listen to the audio version.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: