Disease-carrying ticks and mosquitoes are thriving in York County this year, entering their next blood-sucking season with population booms from warm, wet spring weather.
Ticks will thrive in 2011 because the deer population has not been reduced and the spring rains have fed their life cycle, said Tom Smith, West Nile Virus Program Administrator at Penn State Cooperative Extension.
The ticks latch onto deer in the fall and stay attached to the warm body to survive winter. Around this time of year, the females drop off and lay up to 3,000 water-craving eggs each.
When the eggs hatch as larvae, they sometimes come in contact with small rodents, such as mice or chipmunks, which host Lyme Disease and pass it to the tick.
Smith said people should use repellent, dress in light-colored clothing so any ticks can be spotted, and tuck their pants into their socks so the ticks can't find flesh.
Once indoors, people should remove clothing and check themselves, preferably standing in front of a mirror.
"Check everywhere," he said. "They will crawl anywhere they can get to."
The Centers for Disease Control has also found a direct correlation between Lyme disease and pet owners who let their dogs sleep in bed with them, he said.
Pets who go outdoors should be treated with a repellant, he said.
West Nile: Smith said mosquitoes, also boosted by the weather, are already being reported in some areas. Cooperative Extension staff has noted higher than average counts from traps set across the county.
The mosquitoes which carry West Nile virus, a viral disease, mostly breed in stagnant pools that form in human-provided containers because there are, unlike ponds and other natural pools of water, no predators there.
Smith said there are probably more of the mosquitoes this year because there are more human-provided containers sitting on properties vacant after foreclosure.
"Also, it's York County and we have lots and lots of yard clutter," he said. "Each female can lay 200 to 300 eggs, so if you have a bucket or tire in your backyard, the population explodes."
He said people should remove or be sure to drain any outdoor container that collects water at least once every seven days.
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