Reducing Risks From Tick-Borne Diseases

by | 05.30.2016 | 7:55am

In the United States, human cases of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases have been increasing steadily each year, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are currently tens of thousands of cases reported annually.

The United States Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has identified Lyme disease and anaplasmosis as the most common tick-borne diseases for horses; in some regions, 50 percent of horses may show antibodies to the Lyme disease pathogen, while only about 10 percent show clinical symptoms. Over 70 percent of the ticks that bite horses also bite humans, transmitting the same disease-causing pathogens.

If the tick infestation is severe, it can cause anemia in smaller animals; in some cases, one tick bite can even cause paralysis.

Because tick bites can cause so much damage, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and US Department of Agriculture (USDA) have developed a series of tick management practices to help reduce the incidence of tick bites.

Protect yourself:

  • Apply EPA-registered pesticide products (repellents/tick control) to people, pets and horses according to label directions.
  • Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, hat, gloves, and boots (covering laces with duct tape) while outside.
  • Wear permethrin-treated clothing.
  • Conduct daily body tick checks.
  • Shower immediately after being outside using a washcloth to dislodge any small ticks missed by the body check

Protect your horses:

  • Before riding, inspect your horse and remove attached ticks while grooming. Pay special attention to the legs, on and under the tail, and along the mane. Pay special attention to warm, dark, thin-skinned areas like between the hind legs (udder or sheath areas, as well), behind the elbow, and around the throatlatch and ears.
  • After riding, check your horse for ticks.
  • Re-apply pesticides (if recommended by label directions), specifically to horses that will be turned out on pastures with risk factors that include shade, tall grass, brush or weeds.

Manage your property to reduce tick populations:

  • Remove leaf litter, brush and weeds at the edges of lawns or pastures.
  • Create a 9-foot buffer zone on horse trails and pasture boundaries frequented by deer or other wildlife by clearing litter, brush, weeds and branches.
  • Discourage formation of wildlife habitats on farms by feeding grain in buckets or pans and keeping grains in tightly sealed containers.
  • Maintain the pastures at a length that reduces tick-seeking sites.
  • Prevent horses from grazing in wooded areas by installing fencing.
  • Consult your local Cooperative Extension agent for other recommendations.

Read more at Stable Management.

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