Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy today released a position paper, posted at http://www.loudounwildlife.org, making the case for a fresh approach to Lyme disease prevention in Loudoun County.  The paper, entitled Rebalancing Loudoun County’s Approach to Lyme Disease Mitigation, addresses the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors and Loudoun Lyme Disease Commission with recommendations for a focus on measures that provide high levels of Lyme disease protection and are also safe from the risk of toxic chemicals.   Co-signatories are the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia, Loudoun Beekeepers Association, Piedmont Environmental Council Loudoun Board, Virginia Native Plant Society Piedmont Chapter, and Wild Ones Blue Ridge Chapter.  The full paper can be read and downloaded here .


The Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy paper makes the following recommendations to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors and Loudoun Lyme Disease Commission:


  • Cease using public funds to spray for ticks on public lands – a practice which has not been shown in scientific studies to reduce Lyme disease incidence (vs. reducing numbers of ticks).
  • Promote the highest-efficacy, lowest-toxicity, lowest-cost Lyme prevention methods. These methods center on people taking personal protective measures such as tick checks and wearing long sleeves and pants and light colors.  DEET-based repellents and permethrin-treated clothing can also be among the promoted methods if their moderate toxicity risks are clearly communicated.
  • Emphasize the data collection, education, and communication points from the Loudoun Lyme Disease Commission 2012 ten-point action plan.  Update County informational materials to reflect current research regarding tick ecology, the fact that chemical products most commonly used to control ticks have not been shown to reduce Lyme disease incidence, and that chemical products most commonly used to control ticks carry toxicity risks.


Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy developed the paper in response to Loudoun County’s spraying of public parks with the chemical bifenthrin (Talstar), a pyrethroid classified by the EPA as a possible human carcinogen, and highly toxic to bees, fish, and aquatic invertebrates.  The spraying program was conducted in 2012 and 2013, and the Loudoun Lyme Commission has recommended continuation in 2014.  Schools and homeowner associations have also sprayed their properties with this chemical, following the County’s lead.  According to Loudoun County statistics, reported Lyme disease cases were 0.07-0.08% of population from 2008 through 2012, after peaking at 0.10% in 2007.


We encourage Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy members and friends to read the paper and share your views on this issue with us and with your elected Supervisor.